Fight Over Valley Nuke Rages

Twelve months ago, the Vermont senate voted to permanently close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The New York Times published several long articles about the vote, which, the newspaper suggested, would mean the reactor’s owner, Entergy Corporation of Louisiana, would be required to close Vermont Yankee in March 2012. In the weeks after the vote, activists who had worked for decades to close Vermont Yankee celebrated. There were at least two victory parties in Brattleboro, one of which was attended by about 200 people, including Peter Shumlin. Shumlin, who lives near Brattleboro, was at the time president of the Vermont senate. He is now governor of Vermont.

Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone’s throw from New Hampshire. A serious accident or act of sabotage at the reactor would kill thousands of people, and leave most or all of the Valley permanently uninhabitable.

David Deen lives near Brattleboro and has been a member of the Vermont House of Representatives for two decades. Since 1998, he has been on the staff of the Greenfield-based Connecticut River Watershed Council. That’s a non-profit organization that fights pollution. As a state legislator Deen has always voted “in the public interest” on matters related to Vermont Yankee, according to the state’s biggest environmental group,

In a January 31, 2011 interview, Deen told the Valley Post that there is a “50-50 chance” that Entergy will get permission to run Vermont Yankee until 2032. “Entergy has said they will do whatever they can to keep Vermont Yankee running,” Deen said. “They have so much money to spend, anything could happen.”

Entergy is spending millions of dollars on lobbyists, lawyers, and TV commercials to try to over-ride the will of the people of Vermont, who used the democratic process to order Entergy to close Vermont Yankee in March 2012.

Deen said the most effective thing people who want to see the reactor closed by 2012 can do is call Vermonters whose state legislators are undecided about Vermont Yankee and ask them to call their state legislators. The Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance is working with to coordinate this kind of phone banking.

More information on Vermont Yankee, and a history of the movement to stop nuclear power, are at


Closing Vermont Yankee forever...

Just how much caring for the human condition does it take to combat all the money? If water becomes contaminated what will Entergy do then?

Thanks for the article -- it

Thanks for the article -- it will be very helpful. One correction: all the organizations of the Safe Power Vermont Coalition are coordinating and organizing phone banks.

Debra Stoleroff

I highly doubt the plant will

I highly doubt the plant will continue to operate.

In order to run past March 21, 2012 VY will need a new NRC license, and that's been badly delayed. That's unusual, and suggests that NRC is trying to avoid issuing a ruling in the application.

The plant will also need both chambers of the Vermont Legislature to authorize the Vermont Public Service Board to release a new Certificate of Public Good. Last year the Senate voted 26-4 in opposition to continued operation, so it would take a swing of 12 votes just to pass that chamber, and it would still need House approval.

PSB must in turn settle the docket covering the leak investigation (it's a three point process, and it's taken more than a year to address just point one), and then reopen and settle the license extension docket. Keep in mind that there is no power purchase agreement, and even the Vermont Department of Public Service under former Governor Douglas (a strong supporter of Entergy) has argued in briefings that the CPG shouldn't be issued unless there is a beneficial PPA. Even in the unlikely event that the Vermont PSB issued a favorable decision it would almost certainly include conditions, and Entergy would need to agree to whatever restrictions or conditions PSB required.

The plant is due for a very expensive refueling and maintenance outage that has been publicly identified as scheduled in October of this year, and Entergy has stated they must have approval to continue operating by roughly April in order to commit to the refueling. It's unlikely the company would purchase the needed fuel and commit to the expense of another RFO in October, if the plant was not assured of operation beyond March 2012.

In short, there are a whole lot of dominoes that will need to align and not topple for the plant to operate past March 21, 2012. It seems well past time for the state(s) and region to stop arguing about whether the plant should or shouldn't get an extension, and instead focus on planning for, and adjusting to, the inevitable shutdown.

Tom Buchanan
Londonderry, Vermont

Thank you. -Deb

To: The Valley Post

Thank you for posting this article.

-Deb Katz
Shelburne Falls, Mass.

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