Vermont Senate Rejects Extension For Entergy Plant
By Mark Peters Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–The Vermont Senate overwhelmingly rejected extending the life of the state’s sole nuclear power plant, dealing a blow to Entergy Corp.’s (ETR) plan to run the reactor for an additional 20 years.
The New Orleans-based utility and power generator has been pushing to operate the reactor past March 2012, but has faced growing opposition amid concerns over the safety and operation of the plant. The vote runs counter to growing national interest in expanding nuclear generation by extending the operation of existing plants and restarting new reactor development for the first time in decades.
The state until recently had appeared split over the future of Vermont Yankee, which is scheduled to shut in March 2012. But the discovery of increased levels of tritium, a radioactive material that increases cancer risk, in test wells on the plant’s site fueled growing opposition. The safety concerns have been coupled with accusations Entergy misled state officials on the existence of underground piping potentially causing the leak.
“Don’t do business with someone you can’t trust,” said Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, speaking on the Senate floor before the vote.
Entergy said earlier Wednesday an internal investigation found employees didn’t intentionally mislead state officials, but the statements of employees “led to misunderstandings and, taken out of that context, the responses were incomplete and misleading.” The results of the review led the company to place five senior employees on administrative leave and reprimand six additional managers, including Entergy’s top official at the plant.
Vermont has the authority, rare among states, to decide on extending the operation of a nuclear power plant, which is typically left up to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Both the Vermont Senate and House of Representatives must back extending the plant’s life. The NRC also must rule on the proposed license extension, but hasn’t to date. The Vermont House hasn’t yet taken up the matter.
Entergy in a statement said efforts to win a license extension are “far from over.” The company is determined to keep working in the state legislature to make its case for the plant as a safe and reliable source of power. In the meantime, the company said it continues to focus “on winning back the confidence and trust of the citizens of Vermont.”
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