Monday March 19, 2012

VERNON -- With the future of the state’s only nuclear power plant in legal limbo, supporters of its continued operation gathered at its gates dressed in green to show their support for the plant’s employees.

On Saturday, about 80 people stood in front of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant holding signs of support that read "20 more years of Green Energy" and "VY = Green Power" while applauding employees as they were either just starting work or ending their day.

John Osmond, of Spofford, N.H., who retired from the plant after working there for 31 years, said he attended the rally because he wanted to show his support to the employees.

"I want to see this place continue to run and keep the energy rates down," he said.

Sitting with Osmond holding his own sign in support of the nuclear plant was Vernon resident Les Berg, who has lived in the area since 1983.

"I respect what they do here and how they do it," Berg said.

Nine-year-old Reagan Shippee said she wants the plant to stay open so that no one has to move. Her mother and father, Sheldon and Tara Shippee, both work at the plant.

Vermont Yankee Site Vice President Chris Wamser said he was overjoyed by the support shown on Saturday.

"How many businesses have people come out and protest for them?" Wamser said. "There are people out there that believe nuclear power is a safe and viable energy solution.


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Meredith Angwin, director of the Energy Education Project of the Ethan Allen Institute who co-organized the event, said the rally was all about positivity.

"We want to be encouraging to the plant, its employees and the judge’s ruling," Angwin said.

In January, Judge J. Garvan Murtha, ruled that state legislation violated federal jurisdiction and that it was passed with the purpose of trying to regulate radiological safety, the sole purview of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Part of his ruling stated that if the plant was going to continue to operate past its initial 40-year license, which expires after March 21, Wednesday, it still had to obtain a new or renewed Certificate of Public Good from the state’s Public Service Board.

Members of the PSB could make a decision on whether to reissue a CPG any day.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, on behalf of the state, filed a motion to appeal Murtha’s decision except for the part regarding the CPG. Lawyers for Entergy, however, filed a motion to appeal only that portion of Murtha’s decision.

Those opposed to Vermont Yankee’s continued operation have planned several protests throughout this week, including a 19-day walk initiated by the monks and nuns of the New England Peace Pagoda.

Josh Stilts can be reached at jstilts@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.