MONTPELIER, Vt. — Prosecutors have decided not to charge executives at Entergy Corp. with lying to regulators about the presence of underground piping at its Vermont nuclear power plant, the state’s attorney general said today.
Attorney General William Sorrell said a 17-month investigation into testimony that Entergy executives had given to the state Public Service Board concluded that there was no “smoking gun” to show that a crime had occurred.
Entergy executives had told the board that the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant didn’t have underground piping that might leak radioactive substance. The pipes were found later not only to exist, but to be leaking.
Company officials later announced they had misled state officials in their statements, but said they had not done so intentionally.
“Clearly, Vermont Yankee personnel repeatedly failed to meet a minimally acceptable standard of credibility and trustworthiness, but proving that perjury took place is another matter entirely,” Sorrell said. “We lack the smoking gun necessary to prove the crime, and it would be unethical and irresponsible for us to press criminal charges when we do not have the evidence to meet our heavy burden of proof.”
The plant’s future is unclear.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted a license extension. But after the revelations about Entergy’s testimony, the state Senate voted 26-4 to block Vermont Yankee from operating after March 2012, when its license expires.
The New Orleans-based company and the state are locked in a court battle over whether the plant can continue to operate.