The VT Public Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing on the sale of VT Yankee at the Brattleboro Union High School multi-purpose room, 131 Fairground Road, Brattleboro. Please use the East side entrance past the gymnasium for entrance.
At 6:00 P.M, prior to the start of the 7:00 PM public hearing , the VT Department of Public Service will host an information session.
Here are two issues we’ll bring up at the hearing: transparency and state oversight.
NorthStar claims it will be transparent, open to the public, and honest. At the last NDCAP meeting that transparency was put to the test. Lissa Weinmann, NDCAP panel member and policy expert on nuclear waste, asked Scott State – now CEO of both Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and NorthStar – if the interim high level nuclear waste site WCS is planning for Texas will have to wait until federal law is changed to allow interim sites. State said no. She was incredulous, and repeated her questions; he stuck to his no. Chris Williams of CAN and NIRS expressed his shock at State’s denial. He and Nancy Braus of Safe & Green had just spent the weekend at a national nuclear waste policy conference, where the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 was a hot topic. The act only allows for centralized storage. No interim storage is allowed.
The US General Accounting Office backs up Lissa & Chris:
Authorization: The Administration would require new legislative authority for interim storage because provisions in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act that authorized interim storage have either expired or are unusable because they were tied to milestones in the development of a repository at Yucca Mountain that have not been met. www.gao.gov/
You can read more about this on our website here: A Kumbaya Moment?
2. State Oversight
Can the state agencies provide enough oversight of decommissioning for us to trust that the companies are doing the job they claim they can do? Recent events brought renewed attention to this perennial problem.
- A former Navy yard radioactive superfund site in San Francisco is being redeveloped for housing. Workers switched hundreds of radioactive soil samples with those from sites previously declared clean. The contractor originally denied the allegation, raised by four whistle blowers, but has since admitted to the fraud. One of many recent articles is here. Here is an earlier article on the whistleblowers. We need tight oversight to ensure this kind of fraud does not occur at Vermont Yankee.
- In northern Vermont, despite years of good work by activists, a gas pipeline was built. Citizens worry that the Department of Public Service failed “to provide sufficient oversight during the pipeline’s construction.” 80 public comments and good work by James Dumont, their lawyer, convinced the PUC to take a closer look. On Thursday, the PUC “ordered a comprehensive investigation of the methods and practices used by Vermont Gas Systems in the construction of a controversial, 41-mile gas pipeline from Colchester to New Haven.” VtDigger covers the story here: 2018/04/05/investigation ordered vermont gas pipeline/ and here.
The Vermont Yankee sale agreement calls for lots of reports from NorthStar to the state. Is self-reporting enough? As we read the agreement, the State would only have ‘boots on the ground’ oversight under protocols to be created for non-radiological oversight. See MOU ¶5(k). We hope we are missing something, and that the state will have personnel on site for all aspects of decommissioning. Then again, it may be another situation whereby the federal rules on nuclear reactors and radioactive waste restrict the authority of the state.
Perhaps the state will talk about their authority to monitor decommissioning during their presentation at 6pm, before the PUC public hearing. We hope to see you there.
For more information on the sale of VT Yankee, including links to the sale agreement and the latest news, go to our Decommissioning Resources page.
The formal PUC announcement is here: http://puc.vermont.gov/event/puc-case-no-8880-rescheduled-public-hearing