State & Entergy Come to “Agreement”

On December 23, the State and Entergy held a press conference to announce that they have reached an “agreement” about closure and decommissioning Vermont Yankee. The State has also filed two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the Public Service Board (PSB), and a formal “Settlement Agreement” (which we have not read yet). The agreement is contingent upon the PSB granted a Certificate of Public Good by March 31, 2014. (Settlement Agreement and MOU).

An article can be found here at the Wall Street Journal Market Watch. At first glance, there is good news and bad news in the agreement.

The good news is mostly economic; Entergy will provide some funds for the Clean Energy Development fund and economic development in Windham County, and a transitional tax monies.

Some good news / bad news:

Having a separate Site Restoration fund overseen by the state is good news. But in October, the State asked for at least $60 million for a site restoration fund. Today, Entergy agreed to $25 million “plus an additional parent guaranty, to ensure that separate funds are available if needed to return the site to a greenfield so that the site is available for re-use without restriction.” So if you believe parent Entergy will come through, it’s good news. If you’re skeptical that Entergy’s future, post-decomm stockholders will want to deliver greenfielding to Vermont, it’s business as usual.

It is also good news that Entergy will do “a site assessment and cost study by the end of 2014, two years earlier than NRC rules otherwise would require, to help provide greater certainty regarding the plant’s decommissioning and related activities.” But here’s the bad news …..

  • Entergy will perform the site assessment – not an independent expert.
  • The site assessment is for the purposes of site restoration, not for radiological health and safety. So we will not learn where and how much tritium, cesium, and other contaminants are in the soil and water.

And more bad news:

  • Spent fuel will be moved “in a timely manner” into dry cask storage. While “a timely manner” may be better than 50+ years in SAFSTOR, the fact is old fuel could be moved out of the pool into casks tomorrow. The Entergy spokesman said it intends to have “a plan in place that should make it possible to have the necessary approvals to move the spent fuel to dry cask by the end of 2021.”
  • The old zombie permit for discharge into the Connecticut River remains in place for now. So thermal pollution continues, with no necessity to use the cooling towers, and ANR can continue to pretend they are working on the issue.
  • Work begins only  after there is enough money in the decommissioning fund, not before. So Entergy will still be playing the stock market, risking the fund, and hoping for the best.
  • There is only a “commitment to negotiate terms”  about the “removal of structures and level of radiological exposure after site restoration is complete.” So there is no requirement to dig below three feet of the surface of strutures or to deal with pipes, tritium and other toxins deep in the soil.
  • Dismissal of all federal law suits – including the federal ruling which says state legislators cannot speak about NRC issues. This is a blow for freedom of speech by state legislatures across the country.

Entergy has not proven themselves to be trust worthy. They are doing what they’ve done before: thrown a lot of money at the state in exchange for conditions. Later, they turned their back on those same agreements. We’ll see how long this “Settlement Agreement” lasts.  The last dozen points in the Settlement Agreement – roughly one-third of the document – are all about trust.

Once again, it is now up to the Public Service Board to determine if Entergy has earned it’s trust and deserves a Certificate of Public Good.

Just one citizen’s opinion, written from the evacuation zone. Peace,

Leslie Sullivan Sachs, Safe and Green Campaign

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