Vermont Yankee extension supporters turn out in force at hearings

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(Host) Supporters of extending operations at Vermont Yankee were out in force at hearings before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Wednesday.

The Vernon nuclear reactor’s license expires in 2012. Entergy, the plant’s owner, is asking for a 20-year extension. The NRC was in Brattleboro gathering public input on environmental issues that should be considered in the relicensing review.

Among the first to speak was former Vermont Governor Tom Salmon of Rockingham.

(Salmon) “This plant has been both safe and environmentally friendly over these many years and in that context in terms of its contribution, or I should say non-contribution to pollution in this state, it’s helped make Vermont a cleaner place in which to live. …”

(Host) Salmon was part of a delegation from the Vermont Energy Partnership. The coalition includes the Vermont Business Roundtable and the state Chamber of Commerce.

Other members of the group pointed to recent controversies over wind and other energy alternatives. They said that Yankee is a reliable and economically important power source crucial to the state’s future.

Nuclear opponents were out in lesser numbers Wednesday. But antinuclear activist Deb Katz made it clear that they would continue their fight to close the plant in 2012.

(Katz) “To have nuclear waste that will be dangerous for 250,000 years stored on this site for decades if not hundreds of years is something that should not be allowed. Without a solution to the waste problem there should be no relicensing.”

(Host) The NRC does not consider nuclear waste storage as part of its relicensing review.

The Vermont Public Service Board and the legislature will also weigh in on the proposed 20-year extension.

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