Vermont Yankee Leaking Nuclear Waste Into Connecticut River

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is leaking cancer-causing tritium, a form of nuclear waste, into the Connecticut River, a spokesperson for the Vermont Department of Health said on February 9. The river, a popular swimming and fishing area in summer, flows south from Vermont through Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield. Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire.

On February 5, a group of Vermont state legislators, including the president of the state senate, called for Vermont Yankee to be closed immediately. The following statement was signed by both state senators and 10 of the 12 state representatives in Windham County. Windham County is home to Vermont Yankee and Brattleboro. To read more coverage of Vermont Yankee, please click on the "nuclear power" tag, above, then scroll down. Among the groups working to close Vermont Yankee are the Citizens Awareness Network and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group


As Windham County members of the Vermont Legislature we, like many of our fellow residents, have watched developments at Vermont Yankee over recent weeks with increasing concern.

During that time the level of radioactive pollution being sent into Vermont’s groundwater by VY has increased by 800 percent. That radioactive pollu­tion now also has reached four times the federal limit for drinking water and it is continuing to grow.

Safety of nuclear plants falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government and therefore is outside our control.

However, by statute, Vermont’s groundwater is a resource held as a public trust for the common good of all Vermonters. Its value to all Vermonters — whether as a source of drinking water, for agriculture, for food producers, or for other uses - simply is inestimable and damage to it may irreparably harm all of us.

Protecting Vermont’s groundwater thus not only is within our jurisdiction, it is of the greatest possible concern to us as legislators.

Despite the time it now has had to locate and stop its radioactive pollution of our groundwater, Vermont Yankee’s pollution not only has not stopped, it clearly is increasing not only in its level but in its scope.

Radioactive pollution now has been detected in two new test wells beyond the initial one. No one currently is able to even map the area of ground water being polluted or to predict how far that pollution will spread. No one is able to say whether it will sink from its currently detected relatively shallow depths into deeper aquifers, which would greatly compound the complexity of even attempting any cleanup. No one can accurately estimate the cost of that cleanup or tell us how it will be paid for. And, finally, no one is able to predict when or if the source of this radioactive pollution will be identified and stopped.

In short, the existing situation is both uncontrolled and totally unacceptable. It is for that reason that we now are calling for consideration of having Vermont Yankee suspend its plant operation until the source of its radioactive pollution of our waters is both identified and stopped and until a preliminary plan for cleaning up that pollution has been submitted to and approved by Vermont’s Public Service Board.

We believe that Vermont and all Vermonters deserve no less.


Rep. Richard Marek, Sen. Peter Shumlin, Sen. Jeanette White, Rep. Mollie Burke, Rep. David Deen, Rep. Sarah Edwards, Rep. Ann Manwaring, Rep. Gini Milkey, Rep. John Moran, Rep. Mike Mrowicki, Rep. Michael Obuchowski and Rep. Carolyn Partridge



A group of friends and I swam in the CT river by Northampton today, not aware of this. Is this problematic? Should we be concerned?

Thank you!

How is that not illegal?

Obviously this is a flagrant violation of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Does Entergy realize the generational effect this will have? Do they even care?

I'm all for green tech!


Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass of

Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has been studying the effects of nuclear power plants on cancer since the 1980s, and has found that living near a nuclear plant substantially raises the risk of cancer, especially in children.

Also, the unacceptable behavior of VY with regard to safety and honesty is NORMAL for this industry, and the NRC is in collusion with the industry rather than regulating it. A new nuclear plant [as recently proposed by Vermont state legislator Patty O'Donnell] would bring with it the same problems.

I do not want another nuclear plant to replace VY.

It would be better to move on to truly sustainable, truly green energy options. Ones that are ACTUALLY good for our environment and our health.

Heidi Henkel
Dummerston, Vermont

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