If you talk to the residents of Brattleboro about Vermont Yankee, you are likely to get a wide range of opinions -- some who want it shut down immediately and others who would like to see Yankee continue to operate for years into the future. Jeffery Dejardins offers a little bit of both. "I feel like it should be kept open but with some stipulations. They should get the dry cask storage off the property. I think that is a pretty risky problem. I don't think it is very safe, " he said.
Officials from the Nuclear Regular Commission addressed safety concerns with members of the media Monday. The NRC recently finished an annual assessment of the plant in which Yankee was given the highest marks it could get. "They are in the action matrix, which is the most safe level," said the NRC's Chris Miller.
There were some areas of concern, like faulty fire door latches and standard operational errors, but NRC officials say in most cases, those issues have already been corrected. What the annual assessment does not elaborate on is the current litigation surrounding the plant in the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, or the ongoing battle between Vermont and the plant over the plant's Certificate of Public Good and continued operation.
"We don't comment on that," Miller said. "We are not in the decision making process for that."
Yankee spokesman Rob WIlliams said they are pleased with the NRC's finding, but not surprised. "The plant operated for almost 500 days continuously -- day and night -- and that was followed up by a very successful refueling outage. So, we are very pleased with the plant performance but we would also point out that is only possible because we have a great safety focus here," he said.
A concern shared by even those who support the plants presence in the region. "There are a lot of people who work for Vermont Yankee, so it is a lot of jobs. I can understand the danger side of it too. It's a risky business but they are highly trained people who work there," Dejardins said.