Vermont Yankee — NEC contends Entergy experts submitted false and misleading testimony

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BRATTLEBORO &mdash Two expert witnesses for Entergy presented "false and misleading information" to the Vermont Public Service Board, according to a filing submitted by the New England Coalition.

Writing for NEC, Clay Turnbull and Ray Shadis contend testimony submitted by George Thomas and Harry Dodson "is tainted and unreliable for purposes of fact finding because of bias, error, self-contradictions and gross omissions."

Entegy, which owns the now-shuttered Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, has applied to the PSB for a certificate of public good to build a new Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation to safely store the nuclear waste produced during the plant's 42-year run.

According to Turnbull and Shadis, Thomas' testimony "is misstating time, engineering and space requirements ..."

On March 10, NEC submitted a motion to admit new evidence containing five points it believes contradict the testimony submitted by Thomas and Dodson.

Currently, all of the fuel has been removed from the plant's reactor and what has not already been moved to dry casks is being stored in the spent fuel pool. Storing all the spent fuel produced at Vermont Yankee will require 58 dry casks; 13 are already loaded and are on the original pad at the plant. There are 2,996 spent fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool and 884 spent fuel assemblies loaded in 13 casks. The current pad dimension is 76 feet by 132 feet. The second proposed pad dimension is 93 feet by 76 feet. Entergy needs the CPG to begin construction of the second storage pad in early 2016. If the certificate is issued, Entergy hopes to complete construction of the second pad in 2017. According to Entergy, it will take six months to a year to prepare the second pad.

According to NEC, hiding the spent fuel installation from offsite viewing is not required under Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations, but can be required by the Public Service Board.

"Spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste must be stored only within a protected area so that access to this material requires passage through or penetration of two physical barriers ..." A proposed fence around the storage installation "will function as a typical agricultural fence separating wooded areas from fields. ... Visual access to the site by the public from Governor Hunt Road will not be impaired by the fence."

NEC suggests the PSB consider visual remediation such as a protective berm planted with foliage at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company site in Wiscasset, Maine, which effectively hides that facility from sight. Screening at Connecticut Yankee and Yankee Rowe has also hidden those sites from view, contend Turnbull and Shadis.

"NEC has adduced sufficient evidence to impeach the testimony of Harold Dodson regarding aesthetics and mitigation as inaccurate and misleading and the testimony of George Thomas regarding mitigation and mitigating alternatives as misleading, inaccurate, and less than the whole truth. ... The testimony of Dodson and Thomas goes beyond any confusion of terms and conflicting opinions. There are blunt statements of 'fact; that are not fact, invocations of federal regulation that does not exist, and misleading inferences upon which no reliance may be based."

Turnbull and Shadis reminded the Public Service Board that Entergy has submitted "disputed information" in the past, related to the status of buried pipes at the plant.

"NEC's motion is entirely without merit," said Martin Cohn, senior communications specialist for Vermont Yankee Decommissioning. "The witnesses provided complete and accurate testimony. This filing, which comes on the heels of Mr. Turnbull's alleged criminal trespass on Vermont Yankee property, appears designed to improperly sidetrack the PSB proceeding and delay the movement of spent nuclear fuel to dry cask storage. We are evaluating the options available to us in response to this filing, including the possibility of seeking sanctions against NEC for its misconduct."

On March 3, Turnbull, 53, of Townshend, was arrested by the Windham County Sheriff's Office after it received a report that a man with a camera was within the perimeter fence and was hiding on the property. He is scheduled to appear in court on July 15.

While NEC would like to see the storage of spent fuel expedited for safety reasons, "the specter of long-term storage signals a stewardship call to provide the best practicable storage possible following near flawless review. The process should not go forward based on sketchy considerations, inaccurate testimony and wishful thinking."

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.


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