Vermont Yankee: Three parties granted motion to intervene

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BRATTLEBORO >> The Vermont Public Service Board granted motions by the town of Vernon, the Windham Regional Commission and the New England Coalition to intervene in hearings concerning Entergy's request to construct a new spent fuel storage area at its shuttered nuclear power plant in Vernon.

Both Vernon and Windham Regional Commission were granted intervenor status because they had demonstrated "a substantial interest in the proceeding as it relates to the orderly development of the region."

Entergy Vermont Yankee did not object to either Vernon or the WRC receiving intervenor status. However, it did object to granting that status to the New England Coalition.

"Over our objections, the PSB is allowing NEC to participate as a party in the (certificate of public good) proceeding," said Marty Cohn, Vermont Yankee Senior Communications Specialist. "The PSB has limited the scope of NEC's participation to a more narrow scope of issues — the second pad's impacts on the local environment, the reuse of the Vermont Yankee property, regional planning and development, and aesthetics. Therefore, NEC cannot request information or documents from us or cross-examine our witnesses on subjects outside of these four areas."

Cohn said the PSB limited Vernon's and WRC's participation to issues regarding orderly development of the region.

Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant ceased operations at the end of 2014. Several tons of spent nuclear fuel are still stored in the plant's spent fuel pool, awaiting transfer to dry casks outside of the reactor building. The casks presently in place each hold 68 used fuel assemblies. The current pad has room for 39 total casks, but more space will be needed if, as Entergy hopes, all the waste is moved out of the reactor building and into dry casks.

"With a reasonable period for regulatory review and public input, it is likely that construction could be completed in 2017 and the transfer of all Vermont Yankee spent fuel from wet storage to dry could be completed in 2020," stated a 2014 press release.

Entergy had argued that the interests of the New England Coalition were "adequately protected by both the Department (of Public Service) and the Agency of Natural Resources, and that NEC's participation is likely to cause delays in the proceeding due to the addition of extraneous issues outside the scope of the proceeding ..."

The Public Service Board agreed with Entergy that the NEC motion "discusses a number of issues that are outside the scope of this proceeding ..." However, noted the board, "NEC does not rely on these provisions to establish its interest in the outcome of the proceeding."

NEC's specific interests include the local environment, Vermont Yankee property reuse, regional planning and development, and aesthetics, noted the board. "The Board has previously granted NEC intervention based on interests similar to those that NEC now cites." However, wrote the board, "We remind NEC that this proceeding is not a forum for litigating issues that are within the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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


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