Deadlines As NDCAP Muddles Along

VT’s public comment periods on Yankee decommissioning are a muddle (more below). But one deadline is clear: you have until December 1 to tell the EPA that nuclear power is not clean power, and to get it out of the President’s Clean Power Plan. EPA public comment page. Or join the 19,000 folks who have commented through the easy NIRS comment page here.

In Vermont, citizens’ ability to comment on Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning is clear as mud. Which Entergy-authored report are we commenting on? Where can we read them? Who do we send comments to? By what date?

There is nothing on the VT Dept. of Public Service website about public comments. There isn’t even a link to communicate with the Nuclear Decommissioning Community Advisory Panel (NDCAP ) or its individual members. There is nothing on Entergy’s website about public comments.

Even those who are part of the process — (NDCAP) — are confused.  Here’s a recap from the RH/Times Argus 11.22.14: [Bolding is mine]

Panel members Kate O’Connor of Brattleboro and other area residents had criticized the state for having such a short public comment period. O’Connor, who is vice chairwoman of the Brattleboro Select Board, said the state’s timetable allowed for “a limited amount of time for public comment.”

She said Brattleboro was working hard to have something in the state’s hands about its concerns about the decommissioning process.

And she said a month went by before the Public Service Department put out a press release Nov. 13 announcing the report was available for public comment.

“The town of Brattleboro is now scrambling to get something in,” she said.

But Tony Leshinskie, the state’s nuclear engineer, said the Nov. 28 deadline was just for state agencies, and towns and residents had another month to submit their comments.

November 28? State agencies only? Mr. Leshinskie’s press release of 11.13 invited the public to comment by November 25  [Bolding below is mine]:

For Immediate Release
November 13, 2014
Contact: Tony Leshinskie, Vermont State Nuclear Engineer
anthony.leshinskie@state.vt.us              
MEDIA RELEASE
Public invited to submit comments on Vermont Yankee Site Assessment Study and draft Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report
Montpelier, Vermont – The Public Service Department today announced that it is seeking written public comments on the Vermont Yankee Site Assessment Study (SAS), and draft Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) recently published by Entergy.  Public comments on the draft PSDAR received by November 25, 2014 will be considered for inclusion with the Public Service Department’s comments that will be provided to Entergy for incorporation with its PSDAR submittal to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. All public comments received on the draft PSDAR and the SAS will be considered for inclusion with the State’s evaluation of the Vermont Yankee Site Assessment Survey, and may also be considered for discussion at a future Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel meeting.  [Click here for the rest of the press release , comment and links to the reports.]

To muddy the waters further, according to the same RH/Times Argus report on the NDCAP meeting:

[Entergy VP Michael] Twomey said that Entergy would release its next decommissioning report in late December, but before the plant shuts down, which is expected to happen Dec. 29.

Here’s what I have untangled from asking questions at the NDCAP meeting, reading press releases, and reading the NRC’s guidelines:

  1. 11.25.14: Deadline for state agencies to comment to the Dept of Public Service on the Site Assessment Study and PSDAR. (Forget the 11.28 deadline in the TA/Rutland Herald report; probably a misquote.)
  2. 12.18.14: Next NDCAP Meeting (location to be announced) and presumably last chance for public to comment on Site Assessment Study and PSDAR before it is submitted to the NRC.
  3. PSDAR & NRC: People have been saying there will be a 60 day public comment period once the report is in the NRC’s hands, but that is not specified on the NRC website, which says “A public meeting is held in the vicinity of the facility after submittal of a post-shutdown decommissioning activities report to the NRC. “
  4. The PSDAR can be changed at a later date if new information comes forward. One can imagine a scenario whereby the state or citizens want the PSDAR changed but Entergy does not, and a legal wrangle ensues.

I was at the NDCAP meeting on November 20th and it was messy. You can watch it on BCTV here. The agenda was pretty much thrown out the window. Mr. Leshinskie, our new nuclear engineer, despite his years of education, could not get access to NDCAP members who wanted to attend by phone. Entergy’s harshest critic on VSNAP and at the Statehouse, Senator Mark McDonald, said he learned last week that he was appointed to the panel, and so missed the first two meetings. Mike Twomey wanted to make sure the Minutes are not considered “transcripts” so he won’t be caught making “misstatements” later. The ad hoc Charter committee declared their  rights of freedom of speech by saying they can talk to the press.

Ironically, Bill Irwin of the VT Health Dept. gushed about how he will be meeting with the NRC Commissioners next week, so they can learn all about this valuable, transparent, and inclusive NDCAP process.

By Leslie Sullivan Sachs

 

 

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