Yankee passes hurdle in re-licensing

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(Host) Vermont Yankee is one step closer to getting a new 20-year federal license. A panel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected a challenge brought by a citizens group. 

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board held hearings last summer on a number of issues related to the reactor’s aging components.

The New England Coalition citizen’s group questioned the methodology used to calculate the impact of metal fatigue in the 37-year-old plant.

But the board this week dismissed the final challenge.

Rob Williams is a Yankee spokesman.

(Williams) "This decision concludes a three-year-long process – in fact it was more than three years-and it gave a fair hearing to the contentions that were raised by the intervenors. It basically considered whether our maintenance programs are adequate for the long term under a renewed operating license."

(Dillon) Ray Shadis of the New England Coalition said he was not surprised by the board’s ruling, since the NRC has approved every application for a license extension.

He said the board did require Entergy Vermont Yankee to recalculate the effects of metal fatigue.

(Shadis) "What they were forced to do was to go back and re-do their analyses using a finer screen, a finer sieve. So to the extent that it was an improvement over what they had offered initially for analysis, yes, it makes the plant just that much less dangerous."

(Dillon) Yankee officials say they expect that the full, five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission will approve the license extension later this year.

But under Vermont law, the license extension still requires approval from the state Legislature.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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