Bernie Sanders wants to phase out nuclear power. One Vermont town was hit hard when plant closed

By Michael Bastasch

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, if elected president in 2020, would phase out nuclear power plants as part of his plan to fight global warming with more renewables.

However, small towns across the country have been hit hard by nuclear power plant closures in recent years, including, Vernon, a small town in Sanders’ home state.

United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission/Public domain

Vermont Yankee was an electric generating nuclear power plant located in Vernon, Vt.

“What’s sad is the people, we lost a lot of the people,” Jeff Dunklee, a sixth generation Vernon farmer who also sits on the town board, told WBUR on Tuesday. “They volunteered here, they could be coaches for youth baseball teams or church functions or whatever.”

“So the fabric has been lost, not just the money,” Dunklee said of Vernon’s downturn after the Vermont Yankee power plant was shut down in 2014.

Vernon’s struggle over Vermont Yankee’s closing is one other communities across the country are facing in the coming years from nuclear plant closures. The Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth, for example, is set to close at the end of May, and, across the country, Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is set for closure in 2025.

That’s a trend Sanders said he supported during a recent televised Fox New town hall. Sanders said he favored phasing out nuclear plants, favoring wind and solar power to fight global warming. Sanders is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election.

“I fear very much the kind of world that we are leaving to our kids in terms of more drought, more flooding, more extreme weather disturbances, more rising ocean levels,” Sanders said during the town hall.

“And when those things happen, by the way, they become a national security issue because people migrate,” Sanders said.

However, Sanders also seemed confused when Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum correctly pointed out that Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions rose after Vermont Yankee closed — the opposite of what climate crusaders, like Sanders, want to see.

Vermont Yankee went into service 46 years ago, supplying much of Vermont’s electricity until it shut off five years ago. The 2011 Fukushima disaster sparked a new wave of environmental activism calling for Vermont Yankee’s closure.

Vermont Yankee was the same model as the Fukushima plant, which melted down after being hit by an earthquake and tsunami.

Vermont Yankee was also found to have leaked tritium, a radioactive material, into the ground and water in 2010. However, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) found the leak did not pose a public health risk.

In 2012, when Vermont Yankee’s new operating license took effect, about one thousand environmental protesters showed up at the headquarters of Entergy, the plant’s operator. Entergy quickly announced it would retire the plant, but said it was for financial reasons.

Vermont Yankee disconnected from the grid in 2014. Since then, Vernon has seen jobs, tax revenues and local businesses wither away, including the 2,200-strong town’s general store.

“It’s been a big downer for the town. It’s been depressing for everybody here,” resident Peggy Farabaugh told WBUR of the town’s general store closing.

Vermont Yankee directly employed 600 workers, with an average annual salary over $100,000. The plant also pumped $1 million a year in property taxes in Vernon’s coffers, which was more than half the town’s budget.

Town officials are skeptical other energy sources could make up for all the lost jobs.

“Solar, you need two dozen. If you’re looking at coal, it’s about 250. Nothing tops nuclear in terms of total jobs,” Jonathan Cooper, research director at the Institute for Nuclear Host Communities, told WBUR.

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Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Jared and Corin and United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission/Public domain

7 thoughts on “Bernie Sanders wants to phase out nuclear power. One Vermont town was hit hard when plant closed

  1. Burnie got to be a millionaire by accepting cash from the renewable energy lobby. How else can a no talent, lip server make it big?

  2. Soapbox Burn is running for Prez and is only spewing venom to attract sheeple to improve his aspirations, (mainly to get money). He doesn’t represent VT, he’s never in VT. It’s all for the media.

    The spinster is a part of the New World Order and doesn’t have a clue what Nuclear energy is or any of the improvements in that industry. So may don’t know the difference between an atom and a baseball.

    This is expected and expect more snake oil.

  3. It mystifies me how some can be such ‘Chicken Littles’ that they hang on to the words of Bernie the Buffoon!

  4. Can anything prove the safety, reliablilty, usefullness, ans actual simplicity of nuclear power better than:
    The Navy’s nuclear subs. Hundreds, thousands of sailors have lived with feet and yards of nuclear reactors for near 50 years. A refueling only happens after years.

    Close the best electric power, nuclear then, question many of our small hydro-power dams….
    And eliminate electricty altogether, to have electric power only on sunny days, 8 hours in the winter.
    Wind here is triggered mostly by sun, when the sun goes down, the wind goes calm at dusk.
    get home in the dark in winter to a barely warm home, plug your electric car into your solar panels overnight.
    But IBM moves out because electric power here is already 80% more in Essex, than it is in Albany. –

  5. The fossil fool burnee would be like a nuke strike on our economy.
    While the feds are giving money to other countries to develop
    nuke power plants he want’s to shut ours down????

    Here’s a better idea you old commie tool, we stop payments to other
    countries and develop our own National grid of Thorium Reactors to
    produce all the power we would ever need..

  6. Vermont’s Buffoon, Senator Bernie Sanders if elected as President ( wow ) now that’s scarier
    than any nuclear Plant !!.

    The Fukushima plant, which melted down after being hit by an “earthquake and tsunami”,
    now I understand why VT shut Yankee Down, two things we have in Vermont ??

    Socialist Sanders said he’s, favoring wind and solar power to fight global warming ?? Why
    doesn’t this fool start with the real contributors like Russia, China, India and let’s not forget
    his socialist friends on the Left Coast !!!

  7. I’d expect that from Bernie. He’s had all these great ideas (only in his mind or someone else’s) that he’s been spewing for years but what has he ever done??

    Nuclear power has been the cheapest most environmentally friendly power producer ever. All these other power sources such as wind, solar need a way store their power along with electric cars.
    Unless I’m wrong and maybe I am but these batteries are not cheap or environmentally safe to dispose of. How is this better for the environment?

    Bernie will keep up his BS and the followers will keep adding to his bank account. Not bad for a man that’s never done an honest days work in his life.

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