For the month of April, I toured around Vermont with Greenpeace’s solar truck, the Rolling Sunlight, to talk to Vermonters about nuclear power (view a slideshow). Our tour was specifically targeting Vermont Yankee, the ever-aging nuclear power plant in Vernon.
One thing was very clear during this tour: Vermonters know their stuff. They know about the cooling tower collapse on the nuclear facility. They know that the plant is operating at 120% of its designed capacity. They know that the plant has had three radioactive leaks in just this year alone.
Basically, they know that the plant is dirty, dangerous, and expensive.
Since everyone already seems know these scary details, I’m not going to go into more depth about them. Instead, I’m going to talk about how informed and passionate the people of Vermont are with regards to this issue.
I had the opportunity to travel to several different towns throughout the state to hear what people had to say about Vermont Yankee and nuclear power. I spoke with hundreds of people about this issue and I was extremely impressed by how knowledgeable the general public of Vermont is about VT Yankee and how up to date they are on the political climate of the state. Many people signed petitions and wrote letters to the state legislature about this issue and when I asked them if they had been following VT Yankee in the news recently, they would often respond, “Well, of course – I live here.”
I am not from Vermont. I cannot pretend to know what it is like for the people in Vernon or Brattleboro to hear the monthly test sirens at the nuclear plant that will go off in the event of a nuclear accident.
But I do know this: Vermonters want their state to be nuclear free. I know this because of the hundreds of conversations I had, from the hundreds of people that signed petitions – and even from the hundreds of people that honked and waved while I drove the Rolling Sunlight down I-89.
Vermonters get it: This nuclear power plant needs to retire.
It is time to invest in clean, renewable energies like wind, solar and biomass, which will help solve our energy problems and create tons of new jobs. Vermont has an amazing opportunity right now to set the precedent in our country for how we deal with old, dangerous nuclear power plants. It’s time for the Vermont legislature to get out there and listen to their constituents as I have – and once they do, they’ll too realize that Vermonters are ready for Vermont Yankee to shut down.