Monday, May 21, 2007

Used Fuel, Carbon Emissions and Vermont Yankee

From the Boston Globe:

Activists released a new report Friday indicating Vermont has more radioactive nuclear waste per capita than any state in the nation, which they said underscores the need for approval of a climate change bill that would tax the Vermont Yankee plant.
Which led Ruth Sponsler to respond:
Vermont Yankee's spent nuclear fuel is contained and hidden away where it hurts no one. If there's more "nuclear waste" per capita in Vermont than in other states, that means that Vermont is releasing less fossil fuel waste to the open atmosphere. That means Vermont residents breathe less sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and nitrous oxides per capita - - - because nuclear energy is substituting for fossil fuel generation.
Here's hoping somebody's editor at the Boston Globe reads Ruth's response. For a previous post on anti-nuke efforts to increase taxes on Vermont Yankee, click here.


David Bradish said...

Vermont's population is about 650,000. Total cumulative spent fuel in Vermont is about 540 metric tons which equals 1.19 millions pounds. Total spent fuel per capita thus is 1.83 pounds. And this is over the entire lifespan of Vermont Yankee.

I haven't read the report so I don't know what numbers they came out with. But these numbers should more than anything tell people that the amount of waste per capita from nuclear is trivial.

Anonymous said...

What the article doesn't note, but Governor Douglas correctly has, is that Vermont also has bragging rights to having the cleanest air and smallest carbon footprint of all the US states. I cannot help but think that this is due in no small measure to the presence of Vermont Yankee as a major contributor to electricity supply in the state and region. Interesting how this inconvenient truth somehow slipped by the attention of the Glob.

Anonymous said...

The US Census Bureau source you linked to gives a 2006 population estimate for Vermont of 623,908.

It doesn't change your basic point, but I'm wondering how that number rounds up to 650,000? Why not just use the correct figure, especially when you're taking the per capita waste figure out to 2 decimal places?

David Bradish said...

Allright. The correct figure is 1.91 pounds per capita. When I'm looking at populations by state the numbers are generally in millions. I then don't quite focus too much on tens of thousands. 650,000 was a nice round figure in my mind. At the same time, population data are estimates and were taken from the middle of the year. Whereas the used fuel data is from the end of the year and is also rounded.

If I were writing a report I would be specific. But since this dialogue is only in a comment string, I don't feel the need to be exactly dead on with estimates.