Lawmakers want to limit dry cask storage

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(Host) Lawmakers have received a formal request from Entergy-Vermont Yankee for a high-level nuclear waste site near the Connecticut River. Legislative leaders say they want to limit the storage to waste produced at the plant until its license expires in 2012. They also say Yankee should pay for the privilege of storing its waste near the Vernon reactor.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) State law requires the Legislature to approve any new nuclear waste storage site. But that approval is likely to come with conditions.

Representative Robert Dostis is a Waterbury Democrat who chairs the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. He’d like the state to get some money from Entergy to fund clean energy projects.

(Dostis) “We need to look toward our energy future. And I think any fee we get from Entergy Vermont Yankee will be used for supporting renewable energies, in-state projects, co-generation, efficiency – measures that we can take within Vermont to help secure our energy future a little more than solely being dependent on the external market.”

(Dillon) Dostis also wants a limit on how much waste can be stored to the amount that Yankee produces until its license expires in 2012. Entergy says 12 concrete casks are needed – six for the current storage needs and six for when the plant is decommissioned.

Entergy spokesman Brian Cosgrove says the company is okay with the limit. But Cosgrove isn’t willing to concede that the company should pay for the waste site. He insists the state’s ratepayers already get a good deal from the plant in the form of cheap electricity.

(Cosgrove) “And that’s the benefit that really this dry fuel storage will bring to Vermonters because without it we’ll have to close early and about $100 million of that benefit will be lost. So this isn’t really just about Entergy, this about everybody in Vermont and maintaining low electric rates and Vermont Yankee’s contribution to that.”

(Dillon) Peter Alexander of the New England Coalition nuclear watchdog group says Entergy should pay the state. But he says the company needs to first address safety and security concerns.

(Alexander) “I’m encouraged that there could be some compensation to the people of Vermont. But in reality the fees should be the very last item on the list. It’s not that they aren’t important but much more important are public safety, environmental safety, security concerns, a time line for removal, guarantees for removal. These are much more important than fees. The fees are just a little bonus that that should be added on at the end.”

(Dillon) Entergy says it needs legislative approval this year, before it files for a permit from the state Public Service Board.

The House plans to take up the Yankee bill first. Chairman Dostis says lawmakers will hold hearings in Montpelier and in Windham County.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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