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March 3, 2005 Public Hearing before Windham Regional Commission, Brattleboro, Vermont
on Entergy Proposal to Store Highly Radioactive Nuclear Waste in Dry Cask at Vernon Reactor Site.
Citizens were unanimous, except one, in objecting to the proposal.

Hear citizen comments - MP3 file (length 2:07:25); RealAudio for dial-up connections.

Read Carolyn Lorié story in Brattleboro Reformer
Essential Links:
New England Coalition -
Citizen’s Awareness Network -

Click on thumbnail to see larger photo; use arrows at upper right to navigate through album. photos @ 2005 Charles Jenks


Public weighs in on dry cask storage at VY

Reformer Staff

BRATTLEBORO -- Approximately 70 people attended a Windham Regional Commission meeting Thursday night to weigh in on spent fuel storage at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station.

And the message they sent was clear: Either don't allow it, or allow it with strict conditions.

Officials at the plant submitted an application to the commission in early February for dry cask storage. Thursday's meeting was an opportunity for members of the public to comment on the matter.

While the commission is not the deciding body on the issue, it will make a recommendation to the Public Service Board. The commission can also be a party in the hearing process that Entergy will have to go through before the quasi-judicial board.

Dry casks are specially made steel canisters that can hold spent nuclear fuel after it has cooled in the spent fuel pool. The steel canisters are contained inside thick concrete tube-like structures and are then placed on a concrete pad, surrounded by barbed wire fence.

Many at the meeting voiced concern that allowing an unrestricted number of casks at the plant would pave the way for Entergy to renew its operating license. The current license expires in 2012, but the company can apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a 20-year extension.

The only way the plant can operate beyond 2012 is by creating more storage space, as the fuel pool is almost full.

Ed Anthes of Nuclear Free Vermont noted that while dry cask storage has its own risks -- the cluster of casks can be easily seen by potential terrorists -- it would be safer than Vermont's fuel pool.

But, he added, license extension would leave Vermonters with a pad full of dry casks and a full fuel pool.

"What Entergy offers us is the worst of both worlds," said Anthes.

The threat of terrorism was a commonly voiced concern, as was the likelihood that the dry casks would not be a temporary storage.

"What's called storage today will be called a dump tomorrow," said Michael Daly of Westminster.

"In my view, this proposal amounts to a nuclear waste dump. This makes me very angry," said Margaret Bartenhagen of Halifax.

By submitting an application to the commission, Entergy officials set the stage to apply to the Public Service Board for approval. State law requires that the company first apply to the commission and wait a minimum of 45 days before submitting an application to the board.

The exact process of approval, however, has also been called into question.

Unless there is a change in the law, Vermont Yankee needs the approval of the Legislature for dry cask storage. The company wants lawmakers to expand an existing amendment that gave an exemption to the plant's previous owner to include Entergy.

They have not filed a petition with the Legislature, but have instead aggressively lobbied for an exemption.

Windham County delegates indicated that there was no movement toward changing the law.

In the meantime, Entergy officials claimthat without dry cask storage, the plant will be forced to shut down in 2008 or 2007, if they are allowed to increase power production.

Many have accused the company of trying to force lawmakers' hands by creating a false emergency.

"The freight train is rolling to accommodate the needs of Entergy," said Clay Turnbull of the New England Coalition.

Carolyn Lorié can be reached at