Lawmakers Want Results Of Investigation Before Voting On Yankee

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(Host) It looks like a series of investigations into problems at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant could take months to complete.

But both supporters and opponents of Vermont Yankee say it’s important to get the results of those investigations before lawmakers take a vote on the future licensing of the plant.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) At the beginning of the session, Governor Jim Douglas urged lawmakers to take a quick vote on the future of Vermont Yankee to allow the Public Service Board to fully investigate the pros and cons of renewing the plant’s license for another 20 years.

Douglas isn’t calling for a quick vote any more – in fact – he’s now urging lawmakers to take " a time out" on this issue until more information is forthcoming about a series of underground pipes at the plant that are leaking radioactive water.

Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Vernon Rep. Patti O’Donnell said that approach makes a lot of sense. O’Donnell is a strong supporter of Vermont Yankee:

(O’Donnell) "I don’t think we can make a fair assessment of the situation unless the investigations continue forward. We need to know what we’re voting for and why we’re voting for it before that vote takes place."


(Kinzel) This is also an approach that’s supported by Brattleboro Rep. Sarah Edwards.  Edwards has been a strong opponent of Vermont Yankee:

( Edwards) "I think that we have not wrapped this up yet for sure and I don’t think that the vote will be coming forth immediately I know a lot of people would like that but it may be that we have to wait a couple more weeks or a few more weeks to really try to get to the bottom of this."

(Kinzel) Until recently, Entergy officials denied that the underground pipes existed.   Edwards says that Entergy’s excuse of not knowing about the pipes is just as bad as lying about them:

(Edwards) "Whether they lied or not isn’t really the concern I have. My concern is that they didn’t know that those pipes were there… That is the thing that is most egregious to me – either that they didn’t know or that they knew and didn’t disclose."

(Kinzel) O’Donnell says she believes that Entergy can win back the support of Vermonters if the company takes a proactive position on this controversy:

(O’Donnell) "I spoke to them yesterday and I told them that it’s important that people here in Vermont see the face of Entergy…You know, I also understand where they’re at right now. I think at this point they’re afraid to say anything because of the way it can be twisted at this point, but Vermonters need to see the face of Entergy."

(Kinzel) Entergy wants to spin off Vermont Yankee and five of its older nuclear plants into a new corporation known as Enexus.  That proposal is currently being reviewed by the Public Service Board.

Some lawmakers want the PSB to rule on this proposal before the Legislature votes on the future of Vermont Yankee.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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