Thursday, April 28, 2011

Connecticut Tries to Raise Taxes on Millstone Nuclear, Environmentalists Speak Out against Aging Nuke Plant

Talk Nation Radio for April 28, 2011
Connecticut Tries to Raise Taxes on Millstone Nuc

Judi Friedman of PACE, People's Action for Clean Energy
and Nancy Burton of Connecticut Coalition for Clean Energy

TRT: 29:18
Produced by Dori Smith, Storrs, CT
Download at Pacifica's Audioport here or at and

The nuclear industry holds a lot of power, but state legislators in Connecticut think a tax on nuclear power can be part of a push for lower energy rates and more green forms of energy. That was the idea when legislators asked for an additional 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, about 330 million from Millstone nuclear power. But Millstone (Dominion Resources Inc.) went on the offensive with paid ads, robo calls, and radio spots on even NPR. The NPR "underwriting" ads suggest that Millstone has been providing 1100 jobs while providing "emission free" energy to Connecticut. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. April, in fact, marks a month when Millstone has a planned release of radioactive material which will be the highest level release for the year.
Millstone has tried everything to fight the tax increase. They threatened to close the plant, charge ratepayers more, and even lay off workers so that the plant would be operating with fewer staff during shut down.
Despite the events at Fukushima nuclear plant, all of the safety issues that have been associated with Millstone for decades, were ignored by the media. They have helped Millstone, and operator Dominion Resources, frame the debate as just another tax increase on "the public".
In fact, Connecticut has a deeply problematic regulatory system on taxation for energy, and regardless of the economic climate for residents of the state, they are forced to accept high rates. Millstone argues this is due to taxes, in fact, its due to the law that forces the state to price all energy based on what the least cost effective provider is paying for production. They add ten percent to that and apply it across the board. Thus, Millstone charges the same rate that natural gas charges, and another loophole allows the nuclear company to pass along any tax increases to consumers.

ACCIDENTS: A history of terrifying plant failures leave Millstone's Plant 1 in shut down. Their spokesperson tries to claim this is due to the state's decision that it was not "cost effective" but residents remember the days after the crisis at the plant that left everyone wondering who would come in and at least maintain it in permanent shut down..Enter Dominion, though high costs of oil and other forms of energy have given them a golden opportunity to pull in soaring profits.

There have been multiple accidents at the Millstone Nuclear Power plants in Waterford Connecticut over years of operation since the 1970s when the plants were built. These include several hydrogen explosions at Plant 1, which is very similar to the plant in Fukushima that exploded after an earthquake. If anything Millstone's site is more dangerous since the fuel rods are stored directly above the reactor core. Given what is happening in Japan we can see why this was a terrible idea on GE's part when they built the system.

UPDATE: Under pressure due to the widespread media campaign, the Governor offered a "compromise" that would essentially return the problem to the table for the next legislature to deal with. He would have reduced the tax way down to a fraction of a cent per kilowatt hour, but the authors of 1176 stepped in with last minute amendments to correct the situation. Sen. Fonfara and Rep, Nardello begin another courageous challenge to tax Millstone, and free customers of a surcharge imposed on them by the industry. The results may come through in a matter of days.

GUESTS: Judi Friedman of PACE, has long been an opponent of nuclear power, and she is in favor of increased taxes for Millstone. At the web page, are the words: Remember Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Japan.

For years Judi Friedman has been conducting workshops at the homes and businesses that have successfully used clean technology like solar, wind, and geothermal so that people interested in getting off the grid can learn from each other. Her organization has been encouraging state residents to contact the legislature and the governor to ask that they enforce Senate Bill 1176 to tax Millstone.

Connecticut lawyer, Nancy Burton, watched her lawsuits against the Millstone nuclear plant thrown out one after the other until the state Supreme Court ruled in her favor. It took a decade but Burton - who aims to shut Millstone down - won the right in June, 2009 to legal standing to sue the state of Connecticut for failure to enforce pollution standards under the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act. Burton has pointed out that the Millstone reactors pulverize billions of fish and eggs using the once-through cooling system (see her Gone Fission chapter in our 2001 report, Licensed to Kill). The reactors also pump out radioactive water, damaging to human health.

Background: In 2006, former Attorney Gener Richard Blumenthal, said that while the earnings at most energy companies are about 10 percent, his conservative estimates of earnings at Millstone nuclear plants operated by Dominion Resources Inc., were 44% at one site and 53% percent profit at another. Blumenthal then called for a major tax overhaul that would lower energy rates for consumers and strengthen Connecticut agencies that oversee energy.

Related Links: This article by Snehasis Das notes the rise in cancer plus "an obvious and alarming threat to the lives and livestock of the Khasi tribal region". More deeply troubling news about the uranium mining industry that is expanding rapidly and not well regulated to protect human rights and property or farming rights. National Security or Development? Uranium Mining in Meghalaya by Snehasis Das

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