(Host) The State of Vermont is increasing its oversight of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant to ensure that the facility can be properly shut down when its license expires in 2012.
Governor Peter Shumlin also says he’s disappointed with the way the plant’s owner has dealt with recent cases of tritium contamination.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) Shumlin says the state of Vermont needs to be prepared to deal with a host of technical, financial and health issues associated with the closing down of the Vermont Yankee plant.
So he’s creating a special 5 person scientific commission to look into these issues and he wants the panel to recommend the steps that are needed to shut the facility down.
(Shumlin) "I think this oversight advisory committee will give us expertise that we need to continue in our journey towards the closure of the plant in 2012."
(Kinzel) The Public Service Department will oversee the work of the new commission. Elizabeth Miller is the Commissioner of the Department.
(Miller) "We have a number of questions that have come up with respect to how decommissioning should happen – both from a technical point of view and a financial point of view. And while the Department has worked on those issues in the past, it’s my judgment coming in as Commissioner for the Department that additional technical expertise is necessary to move us forward on those issues."
(Kinzel) The governor also says he’s concerned about the discovery of several additional cases of tritium contamination at Vermont Yankee and he thinks plant officials have done a poor job responding to this situation.
(Shumlin) "The lack of transparency by Entergy Louisiana in communicating to Vermont the challenges that we’re facing there in terms of the aging plant and reliability should be a concern to all Vermonters. They’re certainly a concern to me."
(Kinzel) Vermont Yankee officials disclosed last week that the testing equipment they use to monitor nearby wells was broken for two weeks this winter. This development delayed the reporting of the new tritium contamination. Shumlin says he finds it astounding that Vermont Yankee didn’t tell the state about this problem.
(Shumlin) "I’m concerned and disturbed that it turns out that the tests for the original well were taken several weeks ago – in fact it was taken in December – but that Vermont Yankee’s testing equipment had broken down. And not only had they not notified the state that the testing equipment was broke,n they testified before the Board on other subjects recently and didn’t mention it there."
(Kinzel) Vermont Yankee spokesperson Larry Smith says Entergy officials aren’t ready to respond to the Governor’s concerns at this time.
(Smith) "But right now they’re reviewing all the aspects of what the Governor is commenting on and just not prepared to respond right now."
(Kinzel) Smith says Vermont Yankee’s response involves several different corporate departments and he hopes to have a formal statement as soon as possible.
For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.