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vt.Buzz ~ a political blog

Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen




Word came out Friday about the Public Service Board's decision to hear the case for whether Vermont Yankee should be shut down until the leaking tritium is stopped. The board will hold an initial hearing at 1:30 p.m. March 10.

How common is it for a state regulator to ponder a nuclear shutdown? Not so common. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said he knows of no other similar entity in another state that has opened a case to consider closing a nuclear plant down.

Does the board have the authority to shut the plant down? In its order issued last week, the board asserted it does when it comes to economic and nonradiological-health-and-safety consequences.

"It appears indisputable that the leaksmay result in increased site contamination that could substantially increase decommissioning costs. Increased site contamination could also delay completion of the decommissioning process, which in turn could affect the future economic use of the site," the board said.

"Whether the board could order the shut down of Vermont Yankee in response to these concerns, or in response to environmental damage associated with the leaks, is less clear, and requires more extensive legal briefing by the parties. Even if we were ultimately to conclude that we were preempted from closing down the plant, however, there may be other non-preempted actions we could take to ameliorate economic and land-use impacts of the leaks."

- Terri Hallenbeck


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