(Host) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has officially issued a new 20 year operating license to Vermont Yankee.
NRC spokesman Neal Sheehan says the application by Entergy Nuclear was thoroughly reviewed.
(Sheehan) "This application has been put under the microscope for more than five years. So we are comfortable at this point issuing the renewed license. And we will now go about the business of ensuring that Entergy lives up to all the commitments it has agreed to under this license extension."
(Host) The NRC voted more than a week ago in favor of a new license for the plant in Vernon.
But the commission’s staff delayed the license because of the nuclear crisis that hit Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Yankee’s reactor shares the same design as the crippled nuclear units in Japan. And many critics urged the NRC to reconsider its decision on Yankee in light of the Japanese catastrophe.
Bob Stannard is a lobbyist with Citizens Action Network, which wants Yankee shut down.
Stannard says the NRC should have followed the lead of Germany, which ordered seven nuclear plants off line while the government reviews safety issues.
(Stannard) "It’s unimaginable to think that the NRC would declare this plant safe when this plant houses 640 tons of spent fuel in an unprotected fuel pool with no containment vessel; In Japan, the plant that’s in the worst shape has only 80 tons."
(Host) Yankee spokesman Larry Smith says the fuel is stored safely. He says Entergy is pleased by the NRC decision.
(Smith) "And today’s action comes after five years of extensive and careful review and confirms that Vermont Yankee is a safe and reliable source of electricity and is capable of operating for another 20 years."
(Host) Yankee’s future, however, is still not clear.
Vermont is the only state in the country that allows its Legislature to have a say in nuclear plant operation. Entergy has so far failed to win approval in the Statehouse. And lawmakers say they haven’t been persuaded to change course and vote in favor of Yankee.