Vt. board: Anti-nuke advocate can testify at Yankee safety hearing

Rutland Herald
Last modified: 2/23/2016 11:00:38 PM
MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Public Service Board has rejected a motion by attorneys for Entergy Nuclear to exclude a longtime anti­nuclear advocate from testifying during next week’s hearings on the expansion of Entergy’s high­-level radioactive waste storage facility.

In a decision dated last Thursday, the board ruled that Raymond Shadis, senior technical advisor for the New England Coalition, can testify next week.

The board rejected Entergy Nuclear’s arguments that Shadis’ testimony on aesthetics and other issues would be “irrelevant,” and could border on the issue of federal pre­emption.

Shadis, who lives in Maine, worked closely on the decommissioning of Maine Yankee, and its waste storage facility.

“We overrule Entergy VY’s object to this portion of Mr. Shadis’ testimony,” said the decision signed by PSB Chairman James Volz, and members Margaret Cheney and Sarah Hofmann.

“We find that the testimony meets the standard for relevance,” the board concluded. “In particular, the testimony could be helpful in assessing whether the environmental impacts of the (storage facility,) including aesthetic impacts, are undue,” the board added.

But the board did issue a warning. “At this stage our determination is solely whether the testimony is relevant, not whether it is persuasive,” board members wrote.

(The board is planning hearings Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in Montpelier on Entergy’s petition for a certificate of public good authorizing construction of a second independent spent fuel storage installation storage pad and related improvements.)

Martin Cohn, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear, said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.

Shadis said Monday the New England Coalition believed that Entergy hadn’t explored all the options in siting the new storage pad immediately next to the existing pad.

He said it was possible that the radioactive fuel, which will be placed in 19­-foot-tall steel and concrete silos, will be at the Vernon site for generations. Entergy believes the federal Department of Energy will move it out of Vernon by 2052, clearing the way for decommissioning of Vermont Yankee and cleanup of the site.

Shadis said he believed that it would be best for the future of the Vernon area if the Vermont Yankee spent fuel was moved to a different location, or even buried below ground, as it has been done in several decommissioned nuclear power plants.

“I would like to see them buy a gravel pit across town from the present site and move the spent fuel over to a new site to the gravel pit, and then put the fuel below grade, underground like San Onfre,” he said.

Moving the fuel away from the Connecticut River site would allow redevelopment of the site for recreational purposes, he said.

The Holtec casks that Entergy plans on using are almost two stories tall, he said, and should be better screened or hidden from public view.


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