September Trial Will Have To Determine Yankee Future

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(Host) A decision on the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will have to wait for a federal court trial in September.

U.S. District Court Judge Garvan Murtha refused Entergy Nuclear’s request to suspend a state law that gives the Legislature veto authority over the plant’s continued operation.

The company wanted an injunction that would permit Yankee to continue producing power beyond the expiration of its original license next March.

Yankee spokesman Larry Smith says the company is disappointed and will review the ruling over the next few days.

(Smith) "Our request for a preliminary injunction was about keeping the plant’s workers employed, the plant running safely and the electric grid reliable until this case is resolved."

(Host) Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau says he doubts there will be an appeal of the ruling on the injunction to the appeals court.

But he says the state will still have a lot of work to do in proving that its law doesn’t conflict with the federal government’s responsibility for the safety of nuclear power plants.

(Parenteau) "The challenge is to articulate more clearly than they did in the preliminary hearing the alternative grounds for shutting the plant down, alternative to radiological health and safety. The judge is indicating that the legislature may in fact be operating on solid ground. But he’s not yet ready to pronounce victory."

(Host) Entergy ultimately wants to overturn the state law that gives the Legislature power over Yankee.

It’s already won a 20-year license extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But the Legislature has refused to permit a state permit to be issued.

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