State Scales Back Emergency Plan For Shuttered Vermont Yankee Plant

Sep 23, 2016

The Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is reducing its emergency plan around the shuttered Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.

When VY was fully operational, the department ran frequent drills in the towns surrounding the plant. But without active nuclear fuel at Vermont Yankee, there's less risk of radiation emergency, according to Glenn Herrin, the emergency planning zone planner and training coordinator for the Radiological Emergency Response Program.

Herrin and Planning Section Chief Scott Carpenter talked about the state's new emergency plans at a meeting of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel in Brattleboro on Thursday evening.

"Anything bad that's going to happen at Vermont Yankee now will take long enough that we will have time to look at the plans that we have," Herrin says. "We can adjust the plan and assign the faces to the spaces that we know that we need, to do whatever we need to do to keep the public safe."

Entergy reached an agreement with the state earlier this year to pay $300,000 annually for two years to support emergency planning around VY.

The company also is supporting emergency planning in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

While the plant was operational, Entergy had to support emergency planning under Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules, but the current agreements are not mandatory.

At the meeting in Brattleboro, Herrin said the state reduced its emergency staff in Brattleboro down from three people to a single employee, and the six surrounding towns are no longer training on a regular basis.

Herrin says emergency drills will be cut down from four per year, to one every other year.
And he says the state is no longer maintaining a reception center in preparation for a massive evacuation.

In April, Entergy received approval from the NRC to shrink the emergency planning zone from the 10-mile radius around the plant to the area within the facility in Vernon.