NRC staff gives support to Yankee license extension

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NRC staff gives support to Yankee license extension

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Running the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant for 20 years beyond when its license is due to expire would not harm the environment, staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission say in a preliminary report.

The environmental impact statement is required as Yankee owner Entergy Nuclear seeks approval to extend the plant’s life through 2032.

Any environmental problems that would result from extending the license beyond its current 2012 expiration are “not so great that preserving the option of license renewal for energy planning decision makers would be unreasonable,” the NRC staff wrote.

A nuclear watchdog group argued that the NRC report neglected that continued operation would mean that nuclear waste would have to continue accumulating at the plant’s site in Vernon along the Connecticut River.

“Thats not something the people of the region signed up for when the plant was built,” said Ray Shadis of the New England Coalition. “If you operate the plant for another 20 years its reasonable to assume an incremental increase in that pollution.”

“It is going to be a lasting legacy of radioactive pollution on that riverbank,” Shadis said.

But the NRC staff said electricity now provided by Yankee will continue to be needed beyond the license expiration and conservation cannot replace it. Alternative technologies also aren’t available to replace Yankee’s current power output, the NRC said.

The preliminary report also suggested six things Yankee could do to improve safety in the event of an accident, but the NRC would not require them because they’re not not directly related to the aging of the plant.

Entergy has implemented the safety equipment and procedures it considers cost-beneficial, said spokesman Robert Williams.

The NRC also said it would hold two public forums in Brattleboro on Jan. 31 to hear from the public about the final report it is preparing for release in August.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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