Protestors interrupted a public meeting with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Brattleboro Wednesday night. Anti-nuclear activists brought the session to a temporary halt by reading a letter from Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey criticizing a recent NRC decision.
“Quote, spent nuclear fuel pools are a disaster waiting to happen, unquote, said Senator Markey,” the group read in unison.
The federal agency voted this week not to require plants to speed up the removal of spent fuel from spent fuel pools into safer dry cask storage.
Entergy Vermont Yankee has begun the process to gain regulatory approval to move spent fuel from a pool inside the reactor building to another area on the property.
Entergy wants to store the highly radioactive waste in steel and concrete casks on the plant grounds. But first it must construct a large, flat concrete pad to accommodate the new waste facility.
The company filed notice this week with the Town of Vernon and the Windham Regional Commission of its plans for the concrete pad. It plans to file a formal request with the state Public Service Board on June 30.
Voters in Vernon Tuesday passed a slightly pared-down version of the $4.4 million school budget they rejected at town meeting in March. Vernon School Board Chairman Mike Hebert said the board shaved about $50,000 from the original budget.
"We did say to people that we were going to do as much as we could without changing our offerings in the school and what we need to do to maintain our quality level education," Hebert said.
The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant experienced a small leak of radioactive steam last week. But state and Yankee officials say the leak was contained and the public was not in danger.
Yankee spokesman Rob Williams said the leak was discovered by a worker doing maintenance.
"It was work on a pipe and during that process there was a malfunction of a filter, and that has since been corrected. It was corrected immediately," Williams said. "There was this air sampling monitoring during that the time, and it confirmed that the radioactivity was extremely low."
More than 50 experts and officials met in Putney Wednesday to begin to plan a national conference for regions and states facing nuclear plant closings.
The country will see a landslide of nuclear plant closings in the next few decades, organizer Jeff Lewis told the group. He said the economic and social impacts on those regions will be severe. But Lewis says there isn’t much information on how host communities and states can protect their interests when nuclear power plants stop operating.
The Public Service Board has given the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant the ‘ok’ to operate through the end of 2014, at which point Entergy, the plant's owners, says it will shut down Vermont Yankee.
State regulators have granted Entergy Vermont Yankee a permit to operate through December 2014, when the nuclear plant will close permanently.
Friday's decision includes the approval of a Memorandum of Understanding between the state and Entergy Vermont Yankee. It also settles years of litigation between the state and the plant's owners. But not everyone thinks the ruling serves the region’s best interests.
State utility regulators have allowed Entergy Vermont Yankee to operate the state’s only nuclear plant through the end of the year.
The Vermont Public Service Board on Friday also approved an agreement between the state and Entergy that requires the company to pay $10 million for economic development in Windham County and to set up a $25 million fund to restore the Vernon site after decommissioning.