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Vermont Yankee

Vt. blasts NRC for response to VY mishap

MONTPELIER — Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia said he received “a nice letter” from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about concerns he raised last month about incidents at Vermont Yankee during its recent refueling outage, but the letter didn’t answer his concerns.

“It’s a nice letter, but I guess we’ll have to wait for the root cause analysis,” said Recchia this week.

Recchia said the April 19 letter from William M. Dean, regional administrator for the NRC, said that Entergy Nuclear workers reacted properly during the March incidents, which resulted in a panel blowing out of the containment building. At the time, Vermont Yankee was shut down and it hadn’t started moving spent or new fuel, the letter said.

During the incident, the metal cables holding the panel in place didn’t work, and the panel was blown about 30 feet to the roof of an adjacent building.

The cables were supposed to keep the blow-out panel in close proximity.

According to Dean’s letter, “the wire ropes and eye-bolts on the panel did not keep it attached to the building; however the purpose of attaching a wire retaining rope to the blow-out panel is to prevent a potential occupational injury. Therefore, the failure of the wire rope did not impact plant safety.”

“That’s somewhat entertaining. They’re saying because no one got hurt, it functioned as intended,” Recchia said, while noting the panel’s cables did not work as intended.

“So, if a tree falls in the forest but no one hears it ...” said Recchia.

Recchia said that if the plant had been operating, or Entergy had been moving fuel, the incident on March 18 would have been much more serious, since the plant’s secondary containment around the reactor vessel had been breached.

Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that he had originally said Entergy had to make a report on the incident within 30 days, but that he had made a mistake.

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