(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says Vermont Yankee should stay open despite an ongoing search for two spent fuel rods missing from the nuclear plant. The plant has been closed recently for refueling but is expected to re-open soon. Douglas says the missing rods are not related to the general operation of the Vernon reactor, and that finding power from other sources would be more expensive.
Douglas also says Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Nils Diaz has assured him that an NRC decision on the state’s request for an engineering assessment of the plant will come soon. The governor says he’s made it clear an assessment needs to be done before the plant is allowed to increase its power output.
(Douglas) “We need an appropriate level of review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to give me and the people of Vermont confidence that the uprate can be authorized and the plant operated safely. How many inspectors, how many teams that means for how many weeks or months? I don’t know. But I made it clear on the phone again just today to Chairman Diaz that we want an assessment of the operation of the plant that gives us that degree of confidence.”
(Host) Douglas wouldn’t discuss details of his conversations with the NRC Chairman or say specifically when a decision on the engineering assessment might come.
Entergy Nuclear, which owns Vermont Yankee, has applied for permission to increase the output of the plant by 20 percent. Opponents of the uprate say the plant is too old to be operated safely at increased power.