BRATTLEBORO -- The Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel will be in Vernon Monday night to discuss response plans to radiological emergencies at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
The agenda includes a presentation by FEMA on its role in emergency planning and coordination with state emergency planning management.
Vermont Emergency Management will discuss the funding process for the Radiological Emergency Response Plan and provide information concerning the use of four lanes on I-91 as an emergency route.
Of particular interest will be a discussion by VEM of issues raised in a letter by the town of Dummerston, a letter that was delivered to Sarah Hofmann, the deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service in October 2011.
During the Dummerston Selectboard meeting on Sept. 5, John Angil, the director of the Radiological Emergency Response Program, which is located in Brattleboro, said he became aware of the letter in August of this year, 10 months after it was submitted.
The letter expressed concerns about evacuation routes through and out of Dummerston and traffic control in case of an emergency at Vermont Yankee.
In the letter, the board stated the plan is "unnervingly flawed," and it has refused to sign off on it.
Tom Bodett, who was then the chairman of the Selectboard, wrote in the letter that at some point during drills "Dummerston officials look at each other and say, ‘This is
Bodett also wrote that the emergency notification system doesn't work as advertised.
"We have yet to witness a successful test of the system," he wrote.
The Commissioner of the Department of Public Service, Elizabeth Miller, is the chairwoman of VSNAP, which meets periodically to consider issues relating to the present and future use of nuclear power in general, and of Vermont Yankee in particular.
"Regardless of the timing issue (of the Dummerston letter) that has been raised, it's important to focus on getting the improvements Dummerston is seeking into the plan as soon as possible," said Miller.
VSNAP member Jim Matteau, a former executive director of the Windham Regional Commission, said he is looking forward to hearing answers to questions that were raised in the Dummerston letter.
"I'm glad it's being dealt with finally," he said, adding he is looking forward to Crist's comments on the plan.
To view the entire letter, visit publicservice.vermont.gov/electric/vermont-yankee/nuclear-advisory-panel.html.
Larry Crist, the regional executive director of the Vermont and New Hampshire Red Cross will be on hand to discuss emergency planning and response under the RERP.
Miller said VSNAP asked Crist to attend because it had become aware of concerns that Red Cross has about funding levels and response capacity.
"Red Cross has had a key role in disaster relief efforts in the state and would have an important role in the event of a radiological emergency," said Miller.
Matteau said he was also looking forward to hearing from Crist.
"I understand there have been some changes made to the ERP and the Red Cross' role. I am anxious to learn what those are."
Crist said he has been in discussions with Vermont Emergency Management for the past nine months about the Red Cross' experience with working with the funding system.
"The plan's been around a long time," said Crist.
Though he would not comment on whether the Red Cross has identified deficiencies in the evacuation plan, he said the Red Cross has been doing a careful analysis of the plan and that analysis has raised some concerns.
"We are working toward solutions that can best address our concerns," he said. "People need to be cared for in the event of an evacuation, to the best of anybody's ability."
Bill Irwin, the director of radiological health safety for the Vermont Department of Public Service, will give an update on the New England Compact on Radiological Health Protection.
The program is directed to: Promote the radiological health protection of the public and individuals within the party states; provide mutual aid and assistance in radiological health matters including, but not limited to, radiation incidents; and encourage and facilitate the efficient use of personnel and equipment by furthering the orderly acquisition and sharing of resources useful for programs of radiation protection.
VSNAP advises the governor, General Assembly and agencies of the state with a written annual report.
In addition to Miller and Matteau, VSNAP's members include Larry Becker from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Bill Irwin from the Vermont Department of Health, Sen. Mark MacDonald, D-Orange, and Rep. Sarah Edwards, P/D-Brattleboro.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. in the Vernon Elementary School Cafeteria on Governor Hunt Road.
Bob Audette can be reached at email@example.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.