State to charge Entergy for emergency planning at Vermont Yankee

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VERNON >> The state can now charge shutdown nuclear power plant Vermont Yankee owner Entergy for costs associated with emergency planning.

"It will be new territory," company spokesman Martin Cohn said after a Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel on Thursday night.

A four-year emergency management plan will cover a time period when spent fuel rods from the plant are stored in the spent fuel pool, according to Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia. He said even though the Nuclear Regulatory Commission eliminated the 10-mile emergency planning zone and Vermont Yankee had petitioned for it, the state of Vermont had an obligation to its residents. He expects to discuss at a later date whether the money will come out of the plant's decommissioning trust fund.

Recchia said his department always had "bill-back authority" for work that has to come before the Public Service Board. The state's Agency of Natural Resources, Agency of Agriculture and Department of Health also had similar authority.

"But it's been less clear when it kicks in," said Recchia, "It's mostly done when there's a petition before the board and you need to hire experts or something like that."

ANR has had the right to monitor the site but lacked funding. Now, ANR and the Department of Health can charge for costs associated with inspecting the plant's decommissioning process. Authority also will be expanded to allow the Vermont Department of Emergency Management to bill Entergy so the department can continue "much-reduced" emergency planning, Recchia said.

The groups can expect reimbursement after the work is completed.

"It is a legitimate billing mechanism that we use for all of our utilities and anyone who does CPGs (certificates of public good)," said Recchia, referring to the permitting process requiring PSB approval. "The state will compel them to pay. And if they choose not to, we'll assess that."

Vermont Radiological Health Chief Bill Irwin said during a meeting earlier Thursday, where groundwater-intrusion issues at the plant were addressed, that Entergy had mentioned wanting to "jointly develop protocol" to identify how to conduct surveillance and review of the work being done there.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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