Putting the Brakes on Entergy

Vermont has been getting the bum’s rush from Entergy since the August 2013 announcement that Vermont Yankee would shut down. On March 5, the State said “Enough!” and demanded that the NRC put on the brakes. [Reformer 03.06.15] [VtDigger 03.08.15]

You can download the full State’s Comments from our PSDAR Comments page.) We provide a list of the State’s issues at the end of this post.

Vermont wants the NRC to force merchant reactor owners to take host state’s agreements and state laws seriously. Other states are watching Vermont closely.

By NRC rules, Entergy had two years after the reactor closed to submit its Post Shut-Down Activities Report (PSDAR), the decommissioning plan. Entergy turned it’s PSDAR over to the NRC one week before the plant shut down. If there is any doubt that Entergy does not listen to the State or citizens, it handed the PSDAR to the NRC December 19, one day after the Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) met and commented on the plan. This exact move – releasing information the day after a public meeting – is wearily familiar to those who have suffered through decades of Entergy manipulation.

To add insult to injury, each page of the PSDAR is date stamped December 2 – well before State comments were submitted December 13 and before the NDCAP meeting December 18. Entergy did not take NDCAP, State or public comments into account.

Perhaps the last straw for the State is how Entergy treated the State’s comments on the draft PSDAR. 190 comments by three state agencies were submitted to Entergy December 13. Entergy responded February 28 – weeks after the PSDAR was in the hands of the NRC, weeks after the NRC public meeting on the PSDAR, but — again — the day after an NDCAP meeting. Joe Lynch, an Entergy VP, gave an update to the panel on decommissioning (closing with the usual slide about openness and transparency) without a word about Entergy’s reply to the state’s comments. The next day, over Mr. Lynch’s signature, Entergy sent the State its reply.

I’ve read Entergy’s reply to the state’s comments. It is a line-by-line brush off without substance; a less kind critic would call the reply a slap in the State’s face.

So this last Friday, the State turned to the NRC, demanding that Entergy take the State’s comments seriously. The State’s letter to the NRC is 76 pages. 10 pages of actions it wants the NRC to take or have the NRC require Entergy to take is included, starting with a formal adjudicatory NRC hearing on whether Entergy should be allowed to proceed with its decommissioning plans. It wants Entergy to show, in the PSDAR, how it will comply with State environmental and health regulations, the Settlement Agreement (2014), and the Master Trust Agreement (2002) on the decommissioning trust fund. It wants the NRC to make Entergy revise the PSDAR to include thorough “site characterization” so there is some fact-based connection between the Entergy plans, how much it will cost to clean it up, and what is currently in the water, land and air. It wants an environmental impact statement and analysis of what would happen in case of terrorism, and/or zirconium fire without the Emergency Planning Zone in place. It asks the NRC to deny Entergy use of the decommissioning trust fund money for non-decommissioning purposes such as guarding the spent nuclear fuel.

The State refers to recent public remarks made by an Entergy VP (Michael Twomey): if Entergy runs out of decommissioning funds, “there would be litigation between the state and the company as to how to pay for it.” If that occurs, writes the State,

“… everyone is going to look back at the decisions the NRC makes (or fails to make) over the next few months and wonder that went wrong. And if such lawsuits fail, or succeed in a pyrrhic way because even the parent company is insolvent at that point, the State of Vermont could be left with a radiologically contaminated site and spent nuclear fuel within its borders. The State asks the NRC to do everything within its power to ensure that this does not occur.” (page 8)

Entergy’s response? “By the state taking its actions and causing us to litigate, you know to defend the litigation, that is a decommissioning expense,” said Marty Cohn, their current PR guy, thus delaying clean-up.

“The fact that Vermont would like to see decommissioning done in an environmentally sensitive way and to be done expeditiously, it’s not like Vermonters are crazy. Its fundamental good sense,” said Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

List of requests by State to NRC (selected issues drawn from State’s 1o page summary):

  1. NRC hold an adjudicatory hearing on whether or not Entergy can proceed with decommissioning;
  2. “force” Entergy to time before PSDAR deadline of Dec 2016 to do site characterization so cost estimates more accurate, including for Spent Fuel Management;
  3. require detailed response from Entergy to all State comments;
  4. require for contingencies that may not be found until end of SAFSTOR;
  5. not allow assumption of spent fuel removal by 2052;
  6. not allow Decommissioning Trust Fund (DTF) to be used for Spent Fuel Management; prohibit withdrawal of DTF for a list of things, and explain how it will pay for them;
  7. NRC should protect DTF;
  8. require NEPA analysis of environmental & economic impacts;
  9. require groundwater monitoring, radiological monitoring of pathways to public etc.;
  10. revise analysis to maintain EPZ, fire protection, hostile action, and NEPA analysis of EPZ;
  11. require Entergy to explain inconsistencies between SAS and PSDAR;
  12. require PSDAR to detail how it will comply with State laws;
  13. require more detailed plan and timeline.

Leslie Sullivan Sachs



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