while reopening the review of
A bundle of spent fuel sits beneath its pool of shielding water at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. (File 1996/ The Boston Globe)
March 27, 2011
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The NRC’s decision last week to grant a 20-year license extension to 38-year-old Vermont Yankee defies common sense. The agency should have put such decisions on hold until the lessons of Fukushima can be fully understood.
Instead, it plowed ahead with the extension to Vermont Yankee, which is on the
Connecticut River near the Massachusetts border. The decision is especially puzzling given the history of leaks at the plant and misleading statements by Entergy, which owns it.
Anywhere else, the commission’s unfortunate decision would be the end of the story. But, unique among states, Vermont lawmakers have the authority to prevent the plant from operating past 2012. The Vermont Senate has already voted overwhelmingly against allowing operations to continue, setting the stage for a possible court clash.
The commission needs to be an honest broker, but it often seems too close to the industry it regulates. If the NRC were to reopen the process, and consider the lessons of Japan, the public — and the Vermont legislature — might be less suspicious.
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