Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Book Review: Public Meltdown

By Ben Plotzker, Guest Reviewer

Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, by Richard Watts.

The science behind nuclear energy is one thing, but the management of a nuclear plant is another. This book outlines the management of a nuclear power plant owner in the United States. 

You will learn so much from this book. It is very important to understand what is allowing my night light to be on or my laptop to charge. There are usually mixed sources of sources for electricity, but which sources are more controversial?

In 2010, Vermont legislators voted to shutter a nuclear power plant, putting the state at odds with the federal government and the plant’s owner—the Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation.  Public Meltdown explores the debate that roiled Vermont, including the lawsuits and court action that followed. The story starts out with the early days of the plant back in the 1970’s and how it developed since then. The intriguing use of more than 1,000 news articles, approaches the highly controversial issue with non-bias towards nuclear energy. It is hard to find a book out there that does so like Public Meltdown. As an American citizen that consumes electricity from nuclear means, every person should read this and understand what is going on with that nuclear power plant. Energy is a big issue in the future of the U.S. and the rest of the world, so the question about using nuclear is still in debate.

In rich, well-researched detail, Dr. Watts tells a story that spotlights the role of state governments, citizens and activists in decisions about the nation’s aging nuclear power fleet.  A story that continues today as both Entergy, the nation’s second largest nuclear operator, and the state of Vermont have appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals.Entergy owns 10 plants in the U.S., so it should be known by all U.S. citizens how this controversial energy production is handled in our borders. Nuclear plants are usually very quietly controlled, but all people should know who is patrolling and how they are doing so.

The book details a series of missteps by the Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation which owns Vermont Yankee, from inadequate follow-up after one of the plant’s cooling towers collapsed to misleading statements to state regulators about tritium leaks from underground pipes.Each chapter outlines the important aspects of Entergy’s fight to keep the plant open, even though many speed bumps arise. This non fiction book has some cliffhangers of its own because of how history played out. 

Anyone interested in energy issues or state’s rights is highly recommended to read this book.The noticeable characteristics that put this book aside from any other nuclear energy book is the absence of pro or anti-nuclear positions, no focus on scientific aspects of the plant, just the public’s view of Entergy, and that this is the only book that highlights one nuclear plant’s journey through history. 

The book can be found on Amazon. Look up Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Written by Richard Watts.

More info at