Auditor Asks Nuclear Safety Panel to Meet

04/11/02 12:00AM



(Host) Vermont's auditor says the state should convene an emergency meeting of the panel that oversees the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. But another official who regulates utilities says there isn't an emergency that would justify such a meeting.

Auditor of Accounts Elizabeth Ready is a frequent critic of Vermont Yankee. She faulted the plant after it received failing grades for its emergency planning and terrorism-response exercises. Ready says these problems and the recent discovery of leaking fuel rods at the nuclear plant should prompt the state to hold an emergency meeting of the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel:

(Ready) "I'm concerned that the failure of the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel to meet on a regular basis may be part, more or less, of a laissez-fair attitude toward security and toward readiness when it comes to issues related to nuclear safety."

(Host) Ready served on the nuclear advisory panel while she was a state senator. The panel was created by the Legislature in the 1977 to direct the state's oversight of Vermont's only nuclear power plant.

Christine Salembier is the commissioner of the state Public Service Department, the state agency that represents consumers on utility issues.

Salembier says the panel met in January and will meet again in May or June. According to Salembier, there's no need for an emergency meeting of the panel, which is know as V-SNAP:

(Salembier) "The auditor is right to be concerned about the issues going on at Vermont Yankee. However, I don't agree with the auditor that we need an emergency meeting of V-SNAP. We have a meeting planned in the May-June time frame and I think the issues surrounding Vermont Yankee can be adequately addressed in May and June. They are not emergency issues."

(Host) Salembier agrees with Ready that the leaking fuel rods are troubling. But she says the public is not in danger, because the radiation is confined inside the plant. She says V-SNAP members will be briefed on the situation later this spring.
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