Vermont Yankee’s troubles with tritium and other issues have certainly raised the specter that the plant might not be give permission by the state to operate for another 20 years after March 2012.
Even if it’s not the Legislature or the Public Service Board that pulls the plug on the plant, Entergy Corp. Chief Executive Officer Wayne Leonard suggested last week the company might not be interested in keeping the plant. Leonard said last week during a corporate earnings conference call that Vermont Yankee "is simply not covering its cost of capital."
So then what would happen to that parcel of land alongside the Connecticut River in Vernon if Vermont Yankee opponents got their wish and the plant shut down in 2012? Last we knew, the company had 60 years to mothball the plant in a process called Safstor (CQ: No e’s) while letting the decommissioning fund accumulate interest. Plenty of people don’t feel good about leaving things hanging that long.
Twice, the governor has vetoed legislation that would make Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Corp. sock more money away for decommissioning the plant. This Legislature has had noted success in overriding other vetoes by the governor, but not this one.
A new bill has been introduced this year that would require a nuclear power plant to create two trust funds _ one to restore the site to greenfield status, the other to pay for long-term management of spent nuclear fuel.
One of its sponsors, Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, said he doesn’t think the Legislature will pass the bill this year, declining to specify why, but he said he plans to bring it back next year.
"Safstor would be off the table, absolutely," Klein said. "It would set a date certain that greenfielding would have to occur by."
The state Public Service Department has opposed the Legislature’s decommissioning bills, but Commissioner David O’Brien has also said he’s not comfortable with Safstor.
Deputy Commissioner Steve Wark said the department hasn’t taken a stance on Klein’s new bill, but he said it "could be appropriate" for the state to zero in on setting requirements for greenfield status and managing spent fuel in the absence of a federal solution to that issue.
Vermont Yankee opponent Bob Stannard, a lobbyist for Citizens Action Network, has not lined up behind decommissioning legislation so far for fear that lawmakers would see it as assurance that the plant can continue to operate. Now he’s ready for such legislation. "Some sort of decommissioning bill has to pass the Legislature that says Entergy Corp. is responsible," Stannard said.
- Terri Hallenbeck
Labels: vermont legislature, Vermont Yankee