Supporters dominate Vermont Yankee operation extension hearings

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(Host) Supporters of extending operations at Vermont Yankee dominated hearings before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Wednesday.

The Vernon nuclear reactor’s license expires in 2012. Entergy, the plant’s owner, is asking for a 20-year extension. The NRC was in Brattleboro gathering public input on environmental issues that should be considered in the re-licensing review.

Among the first to speak was former Vermont Governor Tom Salmon of Rockingham.

(Salmon) “Since 1972 when the Vernon plant came on line, the state of Vermont has avoided some 100 million metric tons of fossil fuel pollution and that’s not an inconsequential environmental fact of life. This plant has been both safe and environmentally friendly over these many years and in that context in terms of its contribution or I should say non-contribution to pollution in this state, it’s helped make Vermont a cleaner place in which to live.”

(Host) Salmon was part of a delegation from the Vermont Energy Partnership. The coalition includes the Vermont Business Roundtable and the state Chamber of Commerce.

Other members of the group pointed to recent controversies over wind and other energy alternatives. They said that Yankee is a reliable and economically important power source.

Nuclear opponent Deb Katz argued that generating another 20 years of radioactive waste isn’t good environmental policy.

(Katz) To have nuclear waste that will be dangerous for 250,000 years stored on this site for decades if not hundreds of years is something that should not be allowed. Without a solution to the waste problem there should be no re-licensing.”

(Host) The NRC does not consider nuclear waste storage as part of its re-licensing review.

The Vermont Public Service Board and the legislature will also weigh in on the proposed 20-year extension.

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