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Texas to honor nuke waste disposal deal with Vermont

Paul Franz/Birds EyeViews photo
The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vt., will begin shutting down in 2014.

Paul Franz/Birds EyeViews photo The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vt., will begin shutting down in 2014.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The chairman of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission says the organization is going to honor a 20-year-old agreement that guarantees space for radioactive waste from Vermont in its Texas disposal facility, a deal that Gov. Peter Shumlin said is critical now that Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is shutting down.

During a Wednesday meeting at the Vermont Statehouse, Commission Chairman Robert Wilson said the commission recognizes Vermont is a partner in the compact.

“This compact is going to be more important than ever,” Gov. Peter Shumlin told the commission. “My concern is we remember Vermont and Texas were there first.”

In 1993 Vermont and Texas formed the compact. Under the agreement, Texas would host a low-level radioactive waste facility and Vermont would have a place to send some of the waste from its nuclear power plant. Most of the materials after the plant is decommissioned would go to the Texas facility, except for the fuel rods and higher radioactive materials, said Public Service Department Commissioner Chris Recchia.

Vermont officials are looking for assurance there will be space in Texas for the low-level radioactive waste from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which is due to be shut down next year.

Texas remembers that Vermont is part of the compact, said Rod Baltzer, president of Waste Control Specialists, which runs the waste facility in Andrews, Texas. “I can assure you we have plenty of capacity for the decommissioning of this facility,” he said.

But officials at the waste site want to know when the plant’s decommissioning will start and when the state will send the waste.

An official from Entergy Corp., which owns Vermont Yankee, said it’s too early to tell. T. Michael Twomey, vice president for external affairs, said after the plant closes, a study will be conducted to determine a timeline.

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