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article imageVt. Yankee controversy continues as NRC chief meets with critics

By Martin Laine     Jul 15, 2010 in Environment
Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Gregory Jaczko yesterday praised critics of the Vermont Nuclear Power Plant for their efforts, and offered a broad hint about the plant’s future.
Jaczko did not answer directly questions regarding the NRCs position on shutting down Vermont Yankee, but he’s clearly been looking ahead.
“The thing we have to be most focused on is, “ Jaczko said. “if Vermont Yankee closes down, we have to ensure the plant stays safe.”
Jaczko met for two hours in Brattleboro with representatives of seven organizations who have been calling for the shutdown of the plant in Vernon, Vt., and who have criticized both the NRC and the plant’s owners for their handling of problems at the plant this year. Jaczko also toured the plant and met with employees.
“We’re a better commission because of the local impact. In many communities we don’t have that many people involved,” Jaczko said.
Sandy Levine, a senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation said she was encouraged by the event, but that more needed to be done.
“I’m disappointed there wasn’t a greater transparency and more robust oversight,” she said.
Supporters of the plant, meanwhile, complained that they had been left out of chairman’s itinerary.
The Vermont Energy Partnership sent a letter to Jaczko expressing their disappointment that they had not had the opportunity t meet with him during his visit.
“In our view, having a one-sided stakeholder meeting with anti-nuclear activists to discuss the future of Vermont Yankee during your visit to the state sends a negative message to supporters about the NRCs position on this issue,” said VTEP president Brad Ferland.
Earlier this spring, local NRC officials and plant officials invited supporters to a closed meeting out-of-state to discuss problems with the plant. Both the media and critics of the plant were to be excluded , but when word of the meeting became public, the meeting was rescheduled as a public forum in Brattleboro.
The NRC has come in for its share of the criticism with its part in handling problems at the 28-yearold plant, partly because its lack of effective oversight, and its heretofore unwavering support of the plant and its owners, Entergy Corp. of New Orleans.
Only recently has the NRC been seen as distancing itself from the plan’s owners.
Jaczko defended the NRC staff and their work, but he also conceded that the agency needed to re-establish the public trust.
In addition to calls for the immediate shutdown of the plant, the facility is facing re-licensing. Its current license runs out in 2012, and with each new problem, support for renewing the license for another 20 years is looking dimmer.
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