Keene has been keeping a dirty little secret for nearly 40 years; we’re merely a stone’s throw away from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The nuclear plant is located in Vernon, Vt. approximately 25 miles from the Keene State College campus. For a point of reference, the area in a 19-mile radius around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is absolutely uninhabitable. This area is known as the Exclusion Zone. This zone includes the most contaminated areas surrounding the plant, not all of the areas contaminated with high levels of nuclear materials.

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If a serious meltdown or nuclear accident were to occur at the Vermont Yankee plant, much like what happened at Chernobyl, it wouldn’t be inconceivable to think that it would severely impact both the areas in Vermont directly around the plant, but it would also greatly impact the Keene area and other New Hampshire towns in the area. Vermont Yankee is also the same design as the Fukushima plant that had issues following the Japanese earthquake a year ago, meaning that if there was some sort of large-scale national disaster in the area, it could possibly spell disaster for Vermont Yankee.

Keene is a large part of the evacuation plan for the plant if an accident were to occur, giving Keene an important role to play in the event of an accident. We could be responsible for taking in those who are possibly exposed to radiation, putting Keene in even more danger than if we were to be merely in the area where the materials could spread.

Vermont has taken many steps to try and close down Vermont Yankee, including the Vermont state Senate voting to not renew Vermont Yankee’s license to operate back in 2010, the plant is still fully operational. Over the weekend, 1,000 protestors stood outside Vermont Yankee’s operator, Entergy, to protest against the plant’s continued operation. At the protest, 130 were arrested for trespassing on Entergy’s property, but it did not deter those opposed.

For whatever reason, the close proximity to the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant does not seem to be well-known to students or community members. No one seems to be aware of the possible devastation that could befall Keene and the surrounding areas if something were to go wrong with the Vermont Yankee plant. If the close proximity was better known, it’s arguable that students might be more up in arms about the issue.

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