The Public Service Board has cleared the way for critics of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to examine the plant’s impact on water quality.
The ruling was a reversal for Entergy Vermont Yankee, which tried to keep water pollution issues out of the ongoing hearings over the nuclear plant’s future.
The PSB this week rejected Entergy’s argument.
The board said it was allowed to independently examine water impacts, even though Yankee must also get a separate permit from the state Agency of Natural Resources.
Jamey Fidel represents the Connecticut River Watershed Council and the Vermont Natural Resources Council in the Yankee case before the PSB.
“We think this is a very sound decision,” Fidel said. “Entergy was trying to take really the water quality issues off the table and say the board should solely defer to the Agency of Natural Resources.”
The board is now considering whether Yankee should get a 20 year extension of its state license, called a certificate of public good. The plant uses the Connecticut River for cooling water, and for years environmental organizations have argued that the hot water discharge is bad for fish.
Fidel said the board’s decision opens the door for extensive testimony on water quality impacts.
“They have a discharge permit that’s been issued by the Agency of Natural Resources. That permit expired in 2006. So it’s our position that the underlying data that’s in the permit that they have right now goes back to eight to 10 years,” he said. “And we think it’s very important for the board to consider new information, new data that may be available that would speak to what are the impacts.”
Entergy Vermont Yankee spokesman Rob Williams said the state permit fully protects water quality.
“We’re confident that the board’s final decision will conclude that we’re in full compliance with our river permit and that there are no quality issues that would in any way undermine our request for continued operation,” he said.
But the PSB said Entergy could not rely on that expired permit as proof that the plant has no adverse impact on the river.