UPDATE: Vermont Senate to Vote This Afternoon on Closing Nuke

The Vermont senate will vote on February 24 on whether the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant can run after 2012, said Duane Peterson, president of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group www.vpirg.org

Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire.

Live video of the senate debate is available at www.vpirg.org

Live audio is available at www.leg.state.vt.us

At 11:15 a.m. on February 24, Claire Chang of the Citizens Awareness Network www.NukeBusters.org said in an e-mail from the Vermont statehouse, "The statehouse is swarming with people wearing yellow round stickers saying 'Retire Vermont Yankee as Planned.' We are here in force even with the poor weather conditions."

Brattleboro had received about one foot of snow by 11 a.m. and it was still snowing. Montepelier had received more than six inches of snow at 8 a.m.; it was also snowing there.

Chang urged Vermonters to call their state senators at (802) 828-2228 and ask the secretary to hand deliver a message to the senators saying "Vote now and vote to close Vermont Yankee in 2012. Do not delay the Vermont Yankee vote."

Vermont Yankee is owned by the Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation. As of noon on February 23, Entergy lobbyists had "convinced more than a dozen senators to vote to kill the bill by sending it back to committee," Peterson said. There are 30 Vermont senators. In case of a tie vote, Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie can vote. Dubie supports Entergy.

VPIRG is seeking volunteers to call Vermonters and ask them to call their two state senators about the vote.

There were about 80 Entergy employees in the statehouse on February 23, according to Debra Stoleroff. They were planning to spend the night in a luxury hotel across the street from the statehouse, she said. Stoleroff works at a public high school near Montpelier.

On January 7, Entergy said that Vermont Yankee was leaking tritium into the groundwater. Tritium causes cancer. A week later, Vermont government officials announced that Entergy had lied to state regulators and lawmakers when they said last year that Vermont Yankee did not have underground pipes full of tritium. The statements to regulators were made under oath. A criminal investigation for perjury is underway by the Vermont attorney general.

On February 23, New Hampshire congressman Paul Hodes said Vermont Yankee should be shut down immediately and should stay closed until the tritium leak is stopped.

"Before the vote was announced, Entergy was spending nearly $250,000 dollars every month on ads and lobbyists," Peterson said. "Now Entergy is throwing everything they've got at their bid to relicense Vermont Yankee."

Entergy ran a full-page ad about the senate vote in the February 21 issue of the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper.

Governor Jim Douglas, an ally of Vermont Yankee, will not be able to veto this bill because of the way it was written.

Television station WCAX on February 18 released the results of a poll it conducted with 400 Vermonters. The results were that 49 percent of people said Vermont Yankee should close two years from now, 27 percent said it should stay open, and 24 percent were undecided.

Randy Kehler of the Safe and Green Campaign www.SafeAndGreenCampaign.org said his group organized carpools to Montpelier on February 24 from Greenfield and Brattleboro.

The Valley Post will update this article as more information becomes available. For more background on Vermont Yankee, please click the "nuclear power" tag above, then scroll down.

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This article replaces an article about the vote that was published by The Valley Post on Feb. 16.

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VPIRG produced this television ad about the vote.

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