BRATTLEBORO >> Legal briefs were filed March 16 by all parties before the Vermont Public Service Board in the matter of approval for a second dry nuclear fuel storage site at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.
Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee and Entergy Nuclear Operations are petitioning the board for a certificate of public good for a project that would add platform space for 25 dry casks, which are steel-shelled concrete silos, 19 feet in height and 12 feet in diameter.
Briefs were filed by Entergy, the Department of Public Service, and interveners Windham Regional Commission and New England Coalition.
The Department of Public Service supported Entergy's petition while the Windham Regional Commission pressed for assurances that the choice of the site adjacent to the reactor building would not hinder or drive up costs of decommissioning.
"New England Coalition took a stand apart, challenging the completeness and candor of Entergy-sponsored testimony and urging the board to withhold approval until a more appropriate study could be done on the land-use impacts of the project, including a comparison study of readily available alternatives, such as shielded below-ground storage could be done," said Clay Turnbull, spokesman for NEC. "We believe that the people, future generations, and the natural environment of our region deserve the best protection available and not just the one-size-fits-all minimum."
Holtec International is the supplier of both the above-ground casks that Entergy is seeking to use and the underground cask system, which is urged by New England Coalition for serious study including consultation with an informed public, said Turnbull.
Of its underground "100U" system, Holtec, advertises on www.holtecinternational.com that 100U's low-profile of about two feet is unobtrusive and that the cask is protected from aircraft impact, more secure from malevolent acts, shielded from emitting radiation, easier to load at one cask per half a work-shift, totally protected from water intrusion, and cheaper to decommission that conventional above ground casks. The Holtec 100U was first loaded at California's decommissioned Humbolt Bay plant in 2008 and is currently being emplaced at the San Onofre and Callaway plants. Holtec has also built a 100U facility in Ukraine where, the company says, civil strife signals the need for more secure facilities.
"We are not going to remain quiet while Entergy goes cheap and dirty on nuclear fuel storage in our community," said Turnbull.
New England Coalition has been headquartered and advocating the environment and public safety in Brattleboro since 1971.
In testimony at Technical Hearings just three weeks ago, Entergy Project Leader George Thomas told the Public Service Board that he thought using the 100U would add about $30 million in costs to the $145 million project and cause unacceptable delays.
"When you consider how 100U casks have fewer seismic design constraints, and how quickly they can be put in place, loaded, and decommissioned, Entergy might actually save money by going first-class," said Ray Shadis, technical advisor to NEC. "Even at that, $30 million is a lot of money until you look at it in the context of the $1.240 billion that Entergy says it must have to decommission Yankee; around two-tenths of 1 percent for one of the most important aspects of the whole 60-year effort."