NRC to answer questions on proposed Vt. Yankee sale

  • Vermont Yankee. Recorder file photo

Rutland Herald
Thursday, May 18, 2017

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Staff members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be in Vermont next week to answer questions about the proposed sale of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the NRC, said the meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, in Brattleboro Area Middle School, will be held in conjunction with the monthly meeting of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, or NDCAP.

NorthStar Holding Co., a New York City industrial decommissioning company, wants to buy Vermont Yankee from Entergy Nuclear and decommission the Vernon reactor.

The company, which has never decommissioned a commercial, large-sized nuclear reactor, says it can demolish and clean up Yankee a lot cheaper and faster than Entergy, which has owned Yankee since 2002.

Entergy shut down Vermont Yankee in December 2014 because of low energy market prices.

“This was an outgrowth of the state’s congressional delegation and the NDCAP asking us to hold a public meeting in Vermont and talk about what our review entails,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan said Kate O’Connor, chairwoman of the citizens panel, pushed for the NRC to come to Vermont and answer questions from not just the panel but the general public.

“They are coming not only to talk to, but listen to,” O’Connor said. “I want them to know how the public feels about the sale of VY.”

She said she began writing to the NRC on behalf of the citizens panel to urge a Vermont visit. She said the state’s congressional delegation “was working their connections,” as well, and the NRC staff agreed to come.

O’Connor said even though the NRC’s representatives are coming, she has her expectations in check.

“I’m totally realistic about this, we’re dealing with a federal agency,” she said. “But I’m hoping that they walk away knowing how we feel. What comes of it, I don’t know. But I really think because we live here, we need to have the opportunity to tell them what we think.”

O’Connor said the top issue for the panel and people living in the southeastern corner of the state is whether NorthStar has the expertise and the money to do the project.

“People’s biggest concern — and we hear this constantly — is does NorthStar have the experience to do this?” she said. “And above that, are there adequate funds available, and if not, who pays? Those are the two big ones.”

Sheehan said the NRC staffers who are coming to Vermont are directly involved in the NorthStar license transfer.