(Host) Vermont Yankee has received final approval to begin its 20% power increase.
An amendment to the plant’s operating license was issued Thursday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
VPR’s Susan Keese Reports.
(Keese) The license amendment authorizes the Vernon power plant to increase its generating capacity by approximately 100 megawatts.
The 350-page document says the NRC is satisfied that the uprate poses no danger to public health and safety.
Rob Williams is a spokesman for Entergy, the Vernon plants owner.
(William) “This is very good news for Vermont’s electrical energy future. And this process was very in depth and a very open review, lasting more than a year at the state level and more than two years at the federal level. And it focused on safety and reliability and economics and environmental aspects, so this has confirmed our view that this power increase initiative is consistent with state and federal regulations and it will be a benefit to the region.”
(Keese) Williams says that in a few days the reactor will begin a phased-in ascent to its new 1900 megawatt capacity.
The incremental rise was one of several conditions imposed by the NRC and the state. At successive phases, tests will be done to make sure the increased vibration doesn’t damage the reactor’s steam drier.
The drier removes moisture from steam going into the turbine. If the steam is wet, the turbine might be damaged.
Neal Sheehan is a spokesman for the NRC.
(Sheehan) “And that’s because some other plants that have undergone similar power uprates have encountered problems with their steam driers.”
(Keese) Sheehan says the Vernon plant received the most extensive power uprate review the NRC has ever conducted.
One reason for that was a condition imposed by the Vermont Public Service Board.
The state regulatory body approved Entergy’s request contingent on the results of an independent safety review. The PSB hasn’t yet said whether the review that was done satisfied that condition.
But the Windham Regional Commission, an intervenor in the uprate hearings doesn’t think it did.
Jim Matteau the commission’s executive director doesn’t believed the inspection met the state’s request.
(Matteau) “Our feeling is that they asked for a very specific inspection and they got something else.”
(Keese) Nuclear critic Ray Shadis of the New England Coalition agrees. He says too much of the evaluation was a paper analysis.
(Shadis) “It was not a physical inspection and it was not a diagnostic, systemic inspection, which is what the Vermont Public service Board ordered. So they have done a huge disrespect to the people and environment of Vermont.”
(Keese) David O’Brien, Vermont’s Public Service Commissioner says he believes the inspection was adequate. And he says the Public Service Board doesn’t need to weigh in on the issue before the uprate proceeds.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m susan Keese.