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Attorney General Asks Nuclear Regulatory CommissionTo Evaluate Risk Of Spent-Fuel Pool At Vermont Yankee

CONTACT: Rebecca Ellis, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-3186

May 5, 2009 - Citing the risk of the spent-fuel pool at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, Attorney General William H. Sorrell and the Department of Public Service jointly filed a motion to intervene in a Second Circuit case that calls for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to evaluate the environmental impacts of spent-fuel pools on a plant-specific basis as part of a nuclear power plant’s re-licensing application. “New information indicates that the risk of catastrophic fires in spent-fuel pools is much higher than previously thought,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “The public needs assurance that this information will be considered by the NRC as part of Vermont Yankee’s application for re-licensing.”

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station began commercial operations in March 1972 and has an NRC license to operate until March 21, 2012. The current owner, Entergy, has requested a twenty-year extension to operate the plant until 2032. Entergy must obtain approval for the twenty-year extension from the NRC, the Vermont General Assembly and the Vermont Public Service Board. While the State of Vermont actively regulates Vermont Yankee in areas of traditional state concern - including economics, land use, and the need for power - the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over radiological safety. In August 2008, the NRC formally refused a request to initiate rulemaking that would require evaluation of the environmental impacts of spent-fuel pools on a plant-specific basis during the re-licensing process.

“In the debate over Vermont Yankee’s re-licensing, the NRC should invite an in-depth discussion over the safety of spent-fuel pools,” urged Attorney General Sorrell. “Cutting off debate undermines the public’s confidence in the federal regulatory system and hinders good decision making.”

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