January 04, 2004

In response to the inevitable

from - smijer

If you haven't heard about the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant yet, you will. If you feel that this damages Dean's credibility on security issues (any more than it does the two Presidents', anyway), please take the time to read Dean For America's response.

When the pundits howl about this, please take the time to phone in and remind them that securing the privately owned Vermont Yankee Nuclear plant is and was a federal (not state) responsibility. Please remind them that Dean took what action his authority made possible in response to the 9/11 terror attacks.

Continue reading by clicking below to see the campaign press release.


The Dean Record on Nuclear Security in Vermont

"In Vermont, Gov. Howard Dean heightened security consciousness by posting the Vermont National Guard at airports and limiting access to the Vermont Yankee nuclear facility. The governor also urged the federal government to increase production of antidotes to bioterrorism agents. The governor's activism helps give Vermonters confidence that proper authority is in charge in Montpelier."

-- Editorial, Burlington Free Press, 10/9/01

As many have said before, the hindsight from the terrorist attacks of September 11th is twenty-twenty and no was prepared for the events of that terrible day. In retrospect, every state in the country could have been safer and Gov. Dean took swift and bold action to respond to make Vermonters safer. Governor Dean showed leadership and took responsibility by saying the buck stops here in terms of security by creating a cabinet-level agency to respond to security threats. Dean actions included: placing state troopers and National Guardsmen at the plant, demanding a federal no-fly zone over the plant, increasing funding to prepare for an attack, and devising anthrax preparedness.

Background: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authority for the regulation and inspection of America's power plants.

* Tom Ridge: "Well, first of all, as you know, the nuclear facilities are under the control and regulated for both safety and security purposes by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission." [Testimony before Senate Governmental Affairs committee, 5/1/03, emphasis added]

* Tom Grumbly, Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy: "With respect to commercial nuclear plants, as I think you know, Senator Graham, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is fundamentally responsible for ensuring the safety of those facilities." [Senate Energy Committee hearing, 2/5/97]

* NRC Mission Statement: "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulates the civilian uses of nuclear materials in the United States to protect public health and safety, the environment and the common defense and security. The mission is accomplished through: licensing of nuclear facilities and the possession, use and disposal of nuclear materials; the development and implementation of requirements governing licensed activities; and inspection and enforcement activities to assure compliance with these requirements." [www.nrc.gov]

Fact: Bush Budget Cut Funding For NRC, Undermined Inspections. The NRC's "budget has been cut every year since '93," David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and industry watchdog for the Union of Concerned Scientists said. "That means it has less inspectors." The Associated Press reported, "This year, the Bush administration proposed cutting funding for nuclear plant inspections even though the NRC's overall budget would increase. ... The agency's commitment to safety has been questioned even among its employees." [Associated Press, 3/3/03]

Governor Howard Dean: Protecting VT Yankee

1. On 9/11, Governor Dean Secured the Priority Targets, Including Vermont Yankee. In direct response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Gov. Dean increased security in state buildings, shut down Vermont airports and limited access to Vermont's nuclear power plant. increased its security status. Dean also made sure that the state's electrical utilities had proper security measures in place. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/12/01; Burlington Free Press, 9/12/01; 10/9/01]

2. Dean Called for No-Fly Zone Over Nuclear Plants. Two weeks after 9/11, Dean called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to increase an air safety around Vermont's nuclear power plant. Dean asked that the FAA "establish a five-mile radius no-fly zone over Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station" and that "all aircraft flying over Vermont airspace be required to file flight plans with the FAA." [Associated Press, 10/1/01; Dean letter to FAA, 10/31/01]

FAA Rejected Dean Request for Increased Security Around Vermont Nuclear Power Plants. The FAA ordered a national temporary no-fly zone policy shortly after Dean's request. However in December 2001, the FAA refused to fulfill Dean's request to make the no-fly zone permanents and Administrator Jane Garvey said in a letter to Gov. Dean, "the need for specific restrictions is being constantly reevaluated." The FAA rejected the request for flight plans saying the agency "is not planning to implement this regulatory action." [FAA Letter to Dean, 12/11/01]

3. Dean Called on NRC to Reassess Security at Vermont's Nuclear Power Plant. In September 2001, Dean wrote to NRC Chairman Richard A. Meserve asking for a reassessment of security at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Dean wrote, "Considering last week's terrorist action, I would like the confidence that an overall review of Vermont Yankee security and security culture has been undertaken." [Associated Press, 9/22/01]

4. Doctor Dean Issued Response Plan for Anti-Radiation Medicine. Less than two months after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Dean announced a security initiative to distribute the anti-radiation medicine potassium iodine to all residents within a 10-mile radius of the Vermont Yankee. The announcement was made in advance of planed federal recommendations by Federal Emergency Management Agency, Food and Drug Administration Nuclear Regulatory Commission plan. [Associated Press, 11/30/01]

Drug Distribution Part of Broader Education Response Effort. "Dean and Health Commissioner Dr. Jan Carney both cautioned that potassium iodide would protect only against one of the numerous radioactive materials that would be expected to be included in a release from a nuclear plant. 'We shouldn't pretend this is a solution,' to all threats of radiation poisoning that could result from a nuclear catastrophe, Dean said." [Associated Press, 11/30/01]

Governor Howard Dean: Protecting the State of Vermont

FEMA Commended Dean Response to Terrorist Attacks. FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh commended Dean for "continued support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and your guidance and assistance during the aftermath of September 11. FEMA is greater for the leadership you have displayed in the midst of these trying times for your constituents and for the nation as a whole." [Letter from FEMA Director, 3/21/02]

Dean Elevated Task Force from Volunteer Board to Cabinet-Level Authority. In November 2001, Gov. Dean signed an executive order elevating the chairperson of his terrorism task force to a cabinet level position. The change gave "the governor more direct authority over the group," the Associated Press reported. Kate O'Connor was named Dean's Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs and became the new head of the task force. [Associated Press, 11/2/01]

State Task Force Report Asked for $19 Million in Preparedness Funds. The Vermont Terrorism Task Force issued a report called "A Conceptual Synopsis of Vermont's Homeland Defense Program" asking the federal government for $19 million over six months to prepare to respond to acts of terrorism. The plan called for $7 million for emergency service responders and public safety, $4 million for public health, and $8 million for to general government security and communications improvements. [Associated Press, 11/6/01]

On 9/11, Governor Dean activated Terrorism Task Force. Gov. Howard Dean called a meeting of the Vermont Terrorism Task Force to discuss possible terrorism scenarios and contingency plans. The Task Force includes representatives of the National Guard and American Red Cross of Vermont; and health, transportation and state police officials. [Burlington Free Press, 9/12/01]

Dean Testified Before U.S. Senate Committee on Border Security, Called for Increased Manpower. In December 2001, Dean testified before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury & General Government on border security. In his testimony he briefed the committee on the security challenges that a border state like Vermont faces. Dean called for additional border manpower to address the increasing traffic and level of scrutiny that border-crossings deserve. Dean said, "Additional security at the border will not only keep security tight, but speed the inspections to ensure that tourists and others seeking legitimate sentry can cross quickly and safely into Vermont and other border states." [Testimony of Howard Dean, 12/5/01]

Called on Bush to Increase Preparation Against Chemical Attacks and Protect Water Supply. According to the Associated Press, "Gov. Howard Dean last week appealed directly to President Bush to step up preparations against the threat of chemical and biological attacks. He ordered stepped-up security at public water supplies across Vermont and questioned the safety of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant." Dean called for more frequent security checks at public water supplies and planning for a more coordinated response by state police and emergency management officials to any problems. [Associated Press, 10/11/01; 9/24/01]

Dean Called on Bush to Increase Vaccine Production. Dean called on President Bush to direct federal attention to request drug companies to increase production of vaccines and antidotes to anthrax, botulism and bubonic plague. [Associated Press, 9/24/01]

Posted by smijer at January 4, 2004 03:46 PM
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