Commission, state to ask feds for Vt. hearing

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VERNON — The Windham Regional Commission and the state of Vermont want the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to come to Vermont to discuss the future of citizen advisory panels for nuclear power plants that are undergoing decommissioning.

Chris Campany, executive director of the Windham Regional Commission and the chairman of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, said Tuesday the commission will make a formal request for one of the 10 public meetings the NRC is going to hold nationwide on the issue.

Campany said he understood that the Vermont Department of Public Service will also make a formal request that Vermont get to host one of the NRC meetings.

Campany said the currently existing citizen advisory panel is going through its own transition, as Vermont Yankee's decommissioning is also going through changes.

Vermont Yankee, which shut down permanently in December 2014, was sold in January to NorthStar Holding Co., a New York City industrial demolition company. Entergy Nuclear had owned Vermont Yankee since 2002.

Campany said the existing citizen advisory panel isn't slated to meet until May, so it couldn't make the request.

Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act calls for the NRC to identify best practices for establishment and operation of local community advisory boards associated with decommissioning activities, including lessons learned from existing boards.

Sheehan said Monday that so far no one has requested a hearing in the Vermont Yankee emergency planning zone, but he noted most requests come in close to the deadline, which is April 17.

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"The NRC encourages their creation but it is up to states and/or host communities to establish them," Sheehan said.

"As we have in the case of Vermont Yankee's NDCAP, we have tried to offer support by having decommissioning staffers appear before the panel and by providing information," he said.

Campany said the already existing Vermont citizen advisory board was different than some citizen advisory boards that have been established at other nuclear power plants, including at Maine Yankee. He said in some cases, the citizen advisory panels are established by the nuclear company, and are funded by them.

Campany said the Vermont panel is made up of state officials, as well as citizens and legislators appointed by the governor, the speaker of the house and the president of the senate, along with some community members. Josh Unruh, chairman of the Vernon Select Board, said he didn't know whether Vernon would request a hearing.

As part of those activities, the NRC will hold at least 10 public meetings to "consult with host states, communities within the emergency planning zone of a nuclear power reactor, and existing local community advisory boards," Sheehan said.

A representative from the Vermont Department of Public Service couldn't be reached Tuesday.

Sheehan said any "stakeholder" or citizen in the area could file a request with the NRC that it hold a hearing in the Vermont Yankee's former emergency planning zone.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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