Vermont Yankee power increase still on hold

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(Host) Six days after it began, the phased-in power increase at Vermont Yankee is still on hold.

The owners and the manufacturer of the plant are analyzing information on vibrations in the steam line observed after the power boost began on Saturday.

VPR’S Susan Keese reports:

(Keese) In approving Entergy’s request for a 20% power boost, the NRC required the plant to raise its power in five percent increments.

At each 5% plateau, the power increase is required to pause for 96 hours so that data on possible increased vibrations can be analyzed.

Vibrations in one of the steam lines were discovered when the plant reached 105% of its former output.

Now officals have extended that 96-hour period indefinitely.

Larry Smith is a spokesman for Entergy-Vermont Yankee.

(Smith) “We’re staying at our 105% level in power the first plateau until we have an opportunity to analyze all the data that we’re getting back from censors throughout the plan, Understand that data and then we’ll move forward. But we have no timetable, no set date to go to the next power level.”

(Keese) Smith says data has also been sent to General Electric, the plant’s manufacturer, for further analysis.

He emphasized that the vibrations exceeded a level set by the plant itself, but did not exceed levels required by the NRC.

The Vermont Public Service board approved the increase in 2004 contingent on the results of an independent engineering assessment by the NRC.

In its final approval last week, the board said the NRC inspection that was done was not exactly what it asked for, but that it was adequate.

Ray Shadis is a spokesman for the New England Coalition. His group believes the aging plant can’t handle the additional output.

(Shadis) “The PSB’s order made a point to mention that they had received voluminous comment from Vermont people stressing that Vermont people wanted to have an independent safety assessment, and in their order they said the independent engineering assessment they were ordering would resolve to some extent the concerns of Vermont people. And to suddenly drop their definition their requirements and say, oh whatever NRC did is good enough, is a betrayal of that interest.”

(Keese) Shadis says that if the Public Service Board doesn’t stop the uprate, his group will turn to the Vermont Supreme Court for relief.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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