MONTPELIER, Vt. — The union that once represented hundreds of employees at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant now represents a mere 13 workers.
But even with those modest numbers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 300, wants to have a say in upcoming hearings about the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee to a New York City-based industrial demolition company.
Since Vermont Yankee shut down in December 2014, hundreds of workers have lost their jobs at the nuclear power plant in Vernon, as owner Entergy Nuclear planned on putting the plant into mothballs for decades before it is demolished, decontaminated and cleaned up.
Employment, which was once around 650 people, is now slightly more than 100 as the company gets ready for the labor-intensive project of moving all of Yankee’s radioactive nuclear fuel out of its fuel pool and into concrete and steel air-cooled casks.
The IBEW Local 300, in a petition that asks the Vermont Public Service Board for intervenor status, said there was no other avenue for them to express their concerns or get their questions answered.
Interested parties have until March 1 to file for intervenor status, which typically gives an organization more involvement in asking questions and cross-examining witnesses.
Jeffrey Wimette, business manager for the union, which is based in the South Burlington area, didn’t return a call for comment.
But the IBEW previously petitioned to have a seat at the table before the Public Service Board during hearings on the 2002 sale of Vermont Yankee to Entergy, as well as other major projects at the facility.
Wimette’s petition also mentions that workers who will be hired to do the decommissioning at Vermont Yankee could likely be members of the union as well.
The IBEW filed for intervenor status this week, and there has been no formal reaction on file with the PSB about the request.
Also recently filing for intervenor status was the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental group with an office in Montpelier. The New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution and the Windham Regional Commission had asked for intervenor status. Entergy Nuclear said it had no objection to either of those groups participating in the sale process.
“IBEW’s Local 300 also represents electrical trade personnel working for construction contractors hired by Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee to conduct maintenance and preliminary decommissioning activities,” the union’s petition read.
“IBEW’s Local 300 interest in the outcome of this proceeding cannot be protected in any other proceeding,” Wimette added.
“The board will make determinations regarding the safety and well being of the current and future employees of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee and NorthStar,” the union leader added.
Wimette noted that “the soundness of the proposed transfer, as well as the responsibility and management” was also the board’s responsibility. This is the union’s “only opportunity to provide input,” he added.