Federal regulators say the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon is fit to be open for another 20 years. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has voted to extend the license after rejecting an objection filed by an anti-nuclear group.
The New England Coalition hoped the NRC would take more time before issuing the 20-year license renewal.
But the NRC said Yankee passed an extensive safety and technical review which federal inspectors started back in 2006.
This comes despite a series of problems at the plant recently, from a collapsed water cooling tower to ongoing issues with radioactive tritium leaks.
"As with any facility we regulate, we monitor on a daily basis the performance of these facilities. Whether it's in one year or 41 years if there's an issue that causes concerns for a plant to operate safely we would take appropriate action to shut down that plant," said Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the NRC.
The NRC has never denied a nuclear plant a license extension.
The NRC says it will formally issue Vermont Yankee's new license in a matter of days. But under Vermont law, the state Public Service Board and the Vt. Legislature must also approve the license extension. The Vt. Senate has already voted against Yankee and legislative leaders say they have no intention of reconsidering the issue this year.
Late Thursday, Vermont's congressional delegation released a statement that said, "We believe that Entergy should respect and abide by Vermont's laws, which require approval from the Vermont Legislature, and then the Vermont Public Service Board, for the plant to continue to operate beyond 2012."
Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a statement, "Today's vote from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not unexpected, and does not change the fact that Vermont Yankee still needs approval from the state to continue operating beyond its 2012 license expiration. I am pleased that the NRC is reaffirming Vermont's authority to determine the plant's future. Given the serious radioactive tritium leaks and the recent tritium test results, the source of which has yet to be determined, and other almost weekly problems occurring at this facility, I remain convinced that it is not in the public good for the plant to remain open beyond its scheduled closing in 2012."
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