Vt. Yankee makes a move to keep going - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. Yankee makes a move to keep going

Vernon, Vermont - July 25, 2011

For those who support nuclear power, Monday's announcement to refuel Vermont Yankee is welcome news, despite the fact that the Vernon plant has not received a certificate of public good from the state.

"I'm very happy about it and I believe it is the right thing to do," said Howard Shaffer, a retired nuclear engineer.

Shaffer helped bring the plant online in the early 1970s. He says Vermont's attempt to shut the plant down next year is not in the state's best interest because it would be losing a huge source of clean, reliable energy.

"Safe doesn't mean perfect and we don't apply perfect to any of the technologies that we use, whether it's aircraft or trains or anything else," Shaffer said.

The Entergy Corporation filed suit against the state in federal court to keep operating. An injunction from a March closure was also sought while the case is pending. A request that was recently denied.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, was unavailable for comment on camera about Entergy's decision to refuel, but released a statement that said, "Today's decision by Entergy Louisiana to refuel affirms that Judge Murtha was right, and that his decision to deny the injunction was the correct one."

"What the company was asking the court to do is eliminate a big swath of that risk and the court quite sensibly said, 'No businesses have to make decisions based on uncertainty all the time,'" said Don Kreis, a professor at the Vermont Law School.

Entergy threatened that no injunction would likely bring a premature end to the plant. But Monday's announcement to refuel is an obvious step in the other direction; a change of course that opponents of the plant say gives credence to their push to close Yankee.

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group released a statement that said, "This is only the latest example of Entergy Louisiana's irresponsibility, a key reason why Vermont's state government is solidly committed to retiring the old and unreliable reactor as scheduled."

But it's not known whether a federal judge will agree. Kreis says he sides with the state when it comes to Yankee's continued operation, but he says the state has an uphill battle.

"People who notice that the state was victorious in the injunction phase of the case should not take too much comfort from the fact that the state won that round because it says nothing about who will win the final round," Kreis said.

The case is scheduled to go to trial September 12. And Kreis says a ruling could be issued as early as October, right around the time the new fuel rods are scheduled to be installed.

This will be the plant's 29th refueling.

Adam Sullivan - WCAX News

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