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Residents air concerns on Vt. Yankee planning


Greenfield Recorder 04/15/2015, Page C01

By RICHIE DAVIS Recorder Staff

More than 50 people turned out Tuesday night for a turned out for a 2-hour long informational forum on Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant’s decommissioning process, with Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee Government Affairs Manager Joseph Lynch fielding questions and in some cases angry reactions.

Many of those who spoke at the session at Greenfield Community College’s downtown campus, arranged and moderated by state Rep. Paul Mark disputed Lynch’s claim that the end of operations of the 42-year old Vernon, Vt., reactor justifies Nuclear Regulatory Commission exemptions from requirements for the 10-mile emergency planning zone that includes seven Franklin County towns in addition to 11 in Vermont and New Hampshire.

“As long as there is fuel in the fuel pool, we want an evacuation place the way that it stands,” said Gill Selectboard Member John Ward, echoing the comments of many who questioned Lynch’s explanation assessment that since the reactor is no longer operating, the danger of a radiological accident is limited to within the plant’s boundaries.

“The risks are less, but they’re no less serious,” said Judy Walter of Northfield.

Mark, Massachusetts’s representative on the 19-member Vermont Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, said he called for Tuesday’s meeting to get more information to Massachusetts residents, who may not have been able to attend the advisory panel’s monthly meetings in Brattleboro. He said he plans to schedule additional informational meetings in Greenfield, including one with a representative from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Lynch said that the 316 current plant employees — down from 550 who operated Vermont Yankee through the end of last year — would be reduced further to 127 about a year from now through 2020, when transfer of 2,996 remaining spent fuel assemblies from the 40-footdeep spent fuel into additional 45 dry storage casks should be completed. Thirteen casks, containing 884 spent assemblies, are already in place, and plans call for a 32-year “dormancy period” through 2052, with 58 workers at the site mainly for security, when Lynch said the federal Department of Energy is expected to take the fuel.

Actual dismantling and decontamination of the buildings is not scheduled to begin until 2068, with site restoration scheduled to end in 2075 — contingent on Entergy’s decommissioning trust fund, now at $664.5 million, reaching what are projected to be $1.242 billion, in 2014 dollars.

Several of those who spoke Tuesday criticized the fact that Entergy has paid nothing into that trust fund since it purchased the plant 12 years ago and the fact that the scheduled for cleaning up and restoring the site depends on the fund’s future earnings.

Peter Tuzinski of Leyden said, “You’re talking about 2070 before there’s any restoration. … You’ve got a situation here where … a shell game is going on. I want to put this out here folks: I smell bailout.”

The panel plays only an informational role, advising only the Vermont Legislature about decommissioning activities at the plant.

After the meeting, Mark said the panel — which meets next on May 28 — acts only as a conduit for information about the decommissioning process, but “especially in Massachusetts, it is very frustrating that as a state and as a government and as a town and local municipalities, we have practically no say in what goes on.”

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