MONTPELIER, Vt. — Federal regulators yesterday gave the Entergy Corp.-owned Vermont Yankee nuclear plant a 20-year license renewal, despite calls for reconsideration following the nuclear disaster in Japan.
Issuance of the license was a foregone conclusion after the NRC voted to approve it March 10, one day before an earthquake and tsunami triggered the still unfolding crisis at the Fukushima reactors in northeastern Japan, which are of the same design and about the same age as Vermont Yankee.
Vermont Yankee spokesman Larry Smith said officials there and with New Orleans-based Entergy were pleased to have the license in hand. But he added, “It’s not a cause right now for any celebration in light of world events.”
The license renewal was granted a year to the day before Vermont Yankee’s initial 40-year license was to expire. The plant still must be re-licensed by the state, but the Senate last year rejected the idea, leaving its future uncertain.
The renewal was the first granted by the NRC since events in Japan began to unfold 10 days earlier.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had issued a statement Sunday calling for a moratorium on new licenses or license renewals for U.S. reactors in the wake of the Japanese crisis.
Vermont Yankee announced in Jan. 2010 that test wells had turned up evidence that radioactive tritium had leaked from underground pipes at the plant into surrounding soil and groundwater. Within days it was revealed that plant executives had misled state lawmakers and regulators — the latter under oath — by saying the plant did not have the type of underground pipes that carried radioactive substances.
Vermont is the only state in the country with a law calling on its Legislature to give the go-ahead before state regulators issue the state permit the plant also needs to operate past March 2010. A month after the revelations about the tritium leaks, the state Senate voted 26-4 against allowing the plant to renew its state permit. After the Senate killed the measure, it never went to the House.
Source: The Associated Press