NRC presents inspection reports on Vermont Yankee

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(Host) About 500 people gathered in Brattleboro Thursday night for a meeting with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The agency agreed to report to the public on its recent inspection of the Entergy Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

The plant’s owners want to increase its power output by 20 percent. The state Public Service Board asked the NRC to do a special independent engineering assessment as a condition of approving the increase. Inspectors studied 45 potential problem areas and discovered eight where the plant fell short. NRC spokesmen said none poses a significant safety threat.

Anti-nuclear activists say the findings point to a need for a much more exhaustive independent study. Peter Alexander is executive director of the anti-nuclear New England Coalition.

(Alexander) “That’s almost a 20 percent hit rate. Applying the cockroach theory of problems, which is if one’s showing, there’s probably another 100 that are hiding or lurking somewhere, this reactor should be subjected to a complete independent safety assessment. We should crawl over this thing, go over it with a fine-tooth comb before we even think about boosting power.”

(Host) But Jeff Jacobsen, who led the NRC inspection team, says he found no evidence of broader problems.

(Jacobsen) “We found that the overall material condition of the plant was good. And we also found, and I think this is very important, that they had a good attitude towards the things that we found with regard to really trying to listen to what the problem was and then coming up with corrective actions to make sure that the problem would be resolved.”

(Host) A separate NRC inspection faulted Entergy for failing to keep track of highly radioactive fuel rod fragments discovered missing last spring. The pieces were later found.

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