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Layoffs seen likely at Vt. Yankee

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — The company that owns the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant says it’s expecting workforce reductions.

Chanel LaGarde, spokesman for New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., said in an email that “we do expect workforce reductions” will be part of an effort to cut costs company-wide.

The comment comes as the nuclear industry has been under increasing pressure lately, particularly from competition from electrical generators fueled by cheap and abundant natural gas.

This past week, economic analyst Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School put Vermont Yankee on a list of nuclear plants around the country most in danger of economic extinction. Cooper said he based his analysis largely on those done by Wall Street investment adviser firms.

LaGarde said in his email that as it cuts jobs, Entergy “will not compromise safety, security, reliability, customer service or compliance as we move forward.”

Raymond Shadis of the nuclear watchdog group New England Coalition, expressed doubts about that.

“Asking fewer people to do more work will inevitably impact both reliability and safety,” said Shadis, the group’s technical adviser.

He added that “devoting fewer resources to inspection and maintenance is exactly what brought down and ultimately closed VY’s sister plants — Connecticut Yankee and Maine Yankee.”

Vermont Yankee currently employs about 650 people.

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