NRC coming to Brattleboro May 25 to discuss VY sale

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BRATTLEBORO — Four representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will travel to Brattleboro next week to discuss the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.

The NRC officials are scheduled to appear at a Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. May 25 at Brattleboro Area Middle School. The appearance is expected to draw a larger-than-usual crowd, since the commission is considering whether Vermont Yankee suitor NorthStar Group Services is qualified to undertake the radiological decommissioning of the Vernon plant.

"We'll be there to discuss our review of the proposal and to receive comments and answer questions regarding the license-transfer application," NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said. "We were asked by the Vermont congressional delegation and the (advisory panel) to do this."

Both the NRC and the Vermont Public Service Board are reviewing Entergy's proposed sale of the shut-down plant to NorthStar. The New York-based company is promising to clean up most of the site by the end of 2030, which is decades faster than Entergy had been planning.

While the Public Service Board scheduled two public hearings on the matter earlier this year, NRC officials initially would not commit to making an appearance in Vermont.

Commission staffers held a January meeting with representatives of NorthStar and Entergy at the NRC headquarters in Rockville, Md. NRC officials also spoke via phone to a meeting of the Vermont advisory panel in late January, just before the application for transferring Vermont Yankee's license was filed.

But there was a push for the NRC to meet face-to-face with area residents. That gained momentum when the Vermont congressional delegation penned a letter arguing that it is "imperative that state and local stakeholders have meaningful opportunities to provide the NRC with input."

The NRC eventually agreed to participate in a public meeting of the advisory panel. And that's good news for panel Chairwoman Kate O'Connor, who noted that residents in Windham County and the surrounding area "will be living with the decisions made by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for many years to come."

"We deserve a voice in the federal process," O'Connor said Monday. "My goal is to have the NRC leave Vermont with a clear understanding of our questions, concerns and opinions."

Four representatives of the NRC are scheduled to attend the May 25 meeting. They are economist Michael Dusaniwskyj; Jack Parrott, senior project manager for Vermont Yankee; Bruce Watson, chief of the reactor decommissioning branch; and Andrea Kock, deputy director of the division of decommissioning, uranium recovery and waste programs. They are scheduled to provide an overview of the NRC process and then engage in question-and-answer sessions with the advisory panel and the public.

The two key documents up for discussion are the plant's license transfer application and NorthStar's revised post-shutdown decommissioning activities report.

Mike Faher writes for VTDigger, The Commons and the Brattleboro Reformer. He can be contacted at mfaher@vtidgger.org.

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