Time will tell

Published: 6/6/2019 11:58:19 AM
Modified: 6/6/2019 11:58:09 AM

In a May 22 article about nuclear reactor cleanups, the AP refers to Northstar, the company that now owns Vermont Yankee, as “a specialist in nuclear demolition.”

I am from Vermont and have followed the course of Vermont Yankee closely. Northstar is not a specialist in nuclear demolition. They are specialists in decommissioning industrial, non-nuclear sites. They have decommissioned only two small university research reactors. Northstar is working with a company that does specialize in nuclear decommissioning and demolition, Orano, which is the re-branded successor to Areva.

The state of Vermont is actively overseeing the non-nuclear aspects of decommissioning Vermont Yankee. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission — not known for its firm oversight of the industry — is responsible for the nuclear aspects. Still, everyday citizens should be watching to make sure the job is being done right. The town of Vernon is especially interested in restoring the site to a commercially useful purpose.

By agreement with the state of Vermont, Northstar is supposed to create a means of public engagement in the decommissioning process. They have not yet done so. Since they’ve only owned Vermont Yankee for five months, we could cut them some slack, but their silence on the topic isn’t reassuring to me. I would like to see some educational forums with varied perspectives on the risks and benefits of different decommissioning methods, what happens with the waste, security at Vermont Yankee, NRC standards, etc. Once there is a shared basic knowledge, local residents would be able to offer meaningful input.

According to an attorney from the Vermont Department of Public Service, Northstar has hired a consultant to manage public engagement. I hope this is true public engagement and not public relations. Time will tell.

Ann Darling



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