Vermont Yankee decommissioning panel seeks more local reps

  • The containment building and the turbine building of the now decommissioned Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, Vt. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Rutland Herald
Published: 1/31/2017 12:00:00 PM

By SUSAN SMALLHEER

Rutland Herald

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Vermont’s nuclear decommissioning panel will ask the Legislature for a slight shakeup in the makeup of the group, with the goal of increasing local representation on the panel.

Kate O’Connor of Brattleboro, chairwoman of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, suggested the change. She said with the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to a New York City industrial demolition firm, more local representation is needed.

O’Connor proposed that the number of legislative representatives be expanded from two to three, and that they all come from Windham County.

“People who live here understand what we’re talking about,” she said.

She said the change was inspired, in part, by new House Speaker Mitzi Johnson’s decision to split up the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, creating a problem. The change would have a direct effect on the Vermont state Senate representative, Sen. Mark MacDonald, D-Orange, who is a member of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. The Senate committee remained unchanged.

MacDonald, along with several state employees who are on the panel — including Public Service Commissioner June Tierney — abstained from voting. Otherwise, the 19-member panel voted unanimously in favor of the change.

O’Connor said that the House representative from the Vernon-Guilford district, Rep. Michael Hebert, would continue to be a member. Hebert was a member of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

But she said she wanted the Senate representative to come from Windham County, and the other House member should also come from Windham County.

Neither Hebert nor MacDonald have strong attendance records at the panel, which often meets monthly.

MacDonald, without saying anything critical of O’Connor’s proposal, asked for the hometowns of all the panel members. Five of the six “public” members come from Windham County; the sixth one, Jim Tonkovich, lives in Wilder.

In addition to the public members, the panel is made up of state officials from all the major state agencies, and two representatives from Entergy Nuclear, a Vernon man who represents Entergy employees, and a representative from the town of Vernon, who is a longtime Entergy employee.

O’Connor said Rep. David Deen, D-Westminster, who is also a member of the panel, and Hebert were willing to co-sponsor the legislation necessary to tweak the make-up of the panel.

MacDonald couldn’t be reached Friday. Prior to the creation of the decommissioning panel, MacDonald was a longtime member of the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel, which ceased once Vermont Yankee permanently shut down.

Earlier in the meeting, O’Connor was re-elected chairwoman of the decommissioning panel and Martin Langeveld of Vernon was elected vice-chairman.




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