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Vt. Yankee in hot water over underground pipes - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. Yankee in hot water over underground pipes

Montpelier, Vermont - January 15, 2010

"I am not happy with this development and what appears to have happened," said Gov. Jim Douglas, R-Vermont.

"There was an expectation that the information provided by Entergy would be accurate and it was not," said Rep. Shap Smith, D-Vt. House Speaker.

From the governor who has supported the nuclear plant, to legislative leaders who were already skeptical, both now have problems with Entergy-- the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Company officials denied last year there were underground pipes containing radioactive fluid, but that proved wrong after concerns that an underground pipe might have leaked. Federal officials say it's not enough to pose a health threat. It was the company that leaders focused on.

"This mischaracterization of facts is disconcerting," Smith said, "and frankly questions the level of trust Vermonters can have in Entergy to provide accurate information about anything."

Asked if he thought the company lied to state regulators, Douglas answered, "I don't want to jump to conclusions but it appears that information was presented to the public service board that was not accurate."

Last year, both the public service department and a legislative panel issued favorable reports on Yankee to keep operating past 2012 for another 20 years. But both now plan to re-examine their findings and legislative leaders say a vote on Vermont Yankee's future this session is doubtful.

Reporter Kristin Carlson: Did the company lie?

Jay Thayer, Vice President of Entergy Nuclear Northeast: That's a pretty strong word Kristin. We've been looking into this the past few days and definitely found we made some misstatements.

Thayer says he's the one who gave state regulators incorrect information by mistake and he welcomes a new review, still confident the plant will be found reliable. It provides one-third of the state's power.

Carlson: How do you repair something like this? Because it seems like a lot of people are upset with you now.

Thayer: There's a lot of people upset about this-- I'm upset about this. This doesn't reflect what the company expects of me.

Opponents say it won't change their minds but they think it puts supporters in a tough spot.

"It's very, very difficult to support a company or legislation if you've been fed misinformation whether intentionally or ineptly or incompetently," said Bob Stannard of the anti-nuclear group Citizens Action Network.

Vermont's Congressional leaders are also getting involved. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, called the news alarming. Both he and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, are asking for an investigation by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Yankee Nuclear is set to shut down in two years if it doesn't get a license extension. So what does today's news mean for that? Lawmakers have the first step in the process since they gave themselves a say. If they vote no, Yankee will not be relicensed. Friday legislative leaders said before all of this it did not seem likely Yankee Nuclear would get the OK to keep operating for 20 more years and that this certainly does not help the company's case.

Kristin Carlson - WCAX News

Related Story:

State hits Entergy on bad info

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