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Editorial: Entergy’s lack of interest shows

For some time now, the actions of Entergy, the owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, have spoken louder than its words.

The public has been continually told that the company has been doing everything to keep its Vernon, Vt., operations running safely and efficiently. But for a number of years now, what Entergy says hasn’t jibed with issues that have arisen at the plant, from leaking pipes, cooling tower collapses and monitoring well contamination.

Instead, those problems have created a perception that Entergy wasn’t as invested in the plant, especially an aging one, as it should be.

The recent news that for the third time in 18 months inspectors have discovered flood seals are missing in vital spots is another strong indicator that Entergy is being less than vigilant when it comes to the plant.

One might view this as evidence that a short-timer’s mentality has taken over, given that Entergy plans to stop generating electricity with Vermont Yankee next year.

But whether Entergy is shutting down Vermont Yankee in the next couple of months or not, the company should be paying closer attention to inspections, maintenance and fixing issues. That should be something the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is keeping a close watch on, especially since flood seals have become a special concern for the agency following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. It was NRC inspectors that found that work ordered to fix issues discovered in the spring wasn’t done and that the seals apparently hadn’t been checked by Entergy since then.

And again, if you only listen to what Entergy officials have to say, you get a different impression.

“We are reviewing the circumstances that resulted in the condition we found and will be doing an extensive review to identify the root cause and any enhancements we need to make to our inspection program,” Entergy Nuclear spokesman Jim Sinclair said last week.

But the public is finding that words are cheap when it comes to Entergy.

We urged the NRC to get tough with Entergy and to make sure these important steps are taken — and that the seals and other aspects of the plant’s systems are kept in good shape.

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