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Relevant past

Under pressure, we’d guess, people will say just about anything.

That includes an executive from Entergy Nuclear trying to persuade the Vermont Public Service Board that Vermont Yankee’s operating license should be extended for 20 more years.

Appearing before the board during hearings for the licensing request, T. Michael Twomey, vice president for external affairs for Entergy Wholesale Corp. of White Plains, N.Y., asserted that problems that have occurred at the plant in Vernon, Vt., during the past 10 years of Entergy ownership were not relevant to the request to extend the license for two more decades.

In other words, he suggested, officials should pay absolutely no attention to the company’s stewardship of an aging nuclear plant ­— including the possibility that the company often seems uninterested in investing money in renovations or upkeep unless there’s an incident that draws the attention of the public, state government and federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

That is an amazing approach to convincing the board to OK relicensing.

After all, what else does the state have to base its decision on other than the record of the past 10 years of plant operation under Entergy control?

Indeed, it’s that record that concerns — and should concern — state officials and the public.

That’s one reason that the Department of Public Service isn’t on board with the relicensing, which has already been approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It’s
position is that it’s precisely because of the past 10 years and the problems at the plant — from cooling tower collapses to tritium leaks to hitherto unknown underground piping — that show Entergy isn’t committed to being a responsible business partner in the state.

In our opinion, there is considerable question as to whether the state has a role in the plant’s re-licensing in the first place — that will probably be decided in federal court. But it’s obvious that Entergy’s record is a vital part of any appraisal of the plant’s future, and it’s just as obvious that Twomey is whistling in the wind if he thinks it shouldn’t be.

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