NRC: Yankee info accurate, complete

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Following the revelation that Yankee personnel had given incomplete information to Vermont regulators during hearings last year, the NRC issued a demand for information to Entergy, which owns and operates the power plant, to determine if it also received incomplete information. "The team did not identify any discrepancies with Entergy's accounting of buried and underground piping on-site," stated the NRC in a letter to Entergy issued on Thursday.

When Yankee representatives were quizzed by state regulators about underground and buried piping carrying radioactive materials at the plant, they responded that there were none.

Only after a leak of tritiated water was discovered did the state learn that it had been given incorrect information.

Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC, said it only investigated issues under its jurisdiction - those related to the safety of the plant and its environmental impacts that were included in the license renewal application.

The NRC did not investigate whether Yankee staffers gave inaccurate statements to Vermont.

The Vermont Attorney General's Office is currently investigating whether Yankee personnel knowingly gave false information during a sworn hearing. An assistant attorney general told the Reformer his office has no comment on the progress of the investigation.

Several Yankee staffers who were involved with giving the testimony to the state were put on administrative leave or reprimanded after the leak was discovered.

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An internal investigation of Yankee conducted by the Philadelphia law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius found no wrongdoing on the part of Yankee personnel.

The NRC concluded that responses to its demand for information adequately described corrective actions "for any identified incomplete or inaccurate communications provided to the NRC." It also concluded that the personnel suspensions had not affected safety or operations at the power plant.

The review by the NRC was conducted by a team of 19 NRC regional and headquarters staff members who participated in onsite inspections, personnel interviews and document reviews.

"Entergy has provided for continued acceptable regulatory program performance at Vermont Yankee," stated the NRC. "As a result ... no further NRC regulatory action concerning this matter is warranted."

However, the NRC reminded Entergy of the importance of the accuracy and completeness of information provided by licensees.

"The NRC relies on licensees to act with integrity and to communicate with candor," it wrote. "A failure to do so may raise questions about a licensee's commitment to safety or fundamental trustworthiness."

The NRC will continue to "independently verify information and communications provided by Entergy (as with all licensees) in accordance with our regulatory process," stated the NRC.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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