VERNON -- Tuesday night's meeting of the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel was largely dominated by discussion about a breakdown in communication between Vermont Emergency Management and the town of Dummerston.
Members of the Selectboard said they've been unsatisfied by the evacuation plan created by Vermont Emergency Management for years and in a letter dated Oct. 20, 2011, cited numerous issues with the plan.
Tom Bodette, who was the chairman of the Selectboard at the time of the letter, said board members have pointed out problems with the plan since 2003.
"Every year we get the new plan we go through it entirely and send those notations to the official," Bodette said. "A lot of our smaller issues have appeared but a lot of the larger ones have not."
One of the problems Bodette pointed out was the lack of consideration for who should direct traffic coming off a one-lane bridge.
Bodette said the interaction between the town and VEM has felt like people were trying to keep their jobs as opposed to doing their jobs.
"The plan is still being planned, there's a lack of urgency," he said. "If the planning is based on the fact that (an event) probably isn't going to happen, the plan doesn't need to be taken seriously. Why are we doing all this work for a plan that no one really believes in?"
John Angil, a Brattleboro-based director for Vermont Emergency Management's Radiological Emergency Response Program
However, Bodette, on behalf of the town of Dummerston, sent a letter to VEM dated Oct. 20, 2011, and has other letters dating back several years before.
"It's beginning to feel more and more like a waste of our time," he said. "We do not have faith in the plan. We're not signing it because we demonstratively show it won't work."
Peter Coffey, acting director for VEM, addressed the issues and said a meeting with the local emergency managers has been set up for Friday to discuss the town's concerns.
"If the town's not signing off we need to find out why," Coffey said.
He also stated there is no requirement for towns to sign off on the plans created by VEM.
Zeke Goodband, another Dummerston Selectboard member, said the town has gotten really good at drills, but the plan doesn't exist in reality.
Jeanette White (D-Windham) during the meeting said, "This isn't just bureaucracy, this is our lives."
The meeting began with a representative from FEMA giving a presentation about the organization's role in emergency management.
After his presentation Don Carleton, a site specialist for FEMA Region 1, was asked what the procedure is when a town disagrees with the state's emergency management plan.
Carleton said, "If the state says they like the plan the way it is they live and die by it."
The next graded exercise for Vermont Yankee will be held in June 2013 and 90 evaluators are scheduled to be on site to perform roughly 500 inspections.
Larry Crist, executive director of the Vermont Red Cross, also gave a presentation during the meeting and said if there were a situation at the Vernon reactor that required evacuation, the cost to put the 30,000 people in the necessary 116 shelters would be $727,000.
"If we want to provide a bed for everyone, and have the staff to attend to those beds, we need $727,000 to close the gap between the resources we currently have and the gaps needing to be filled," Crist said.
The roughly three-hour meeting in the Vernon Elementary School was attended by more than 50 people and another meeting was tentatively scheduled for December.
Josh Stilts can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.