VT Yankee Owners Confirm Plant For Sale

11/05/10 7:34AM By John Dillon
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AP Photo/Toby Talbot
(Host) The owners of Vermont Yankee confirmed on Thursday that they're looking to sell the nuclear plant.

But even with new ownership, the plant may still face an uncertain future. Governor-elect Peter Shumlin says he still believes Vermont Yankee should shut down when its license expires in 2012.

VPR's John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) On Tuesday, voters chose a candidate for governor who campaigned hard against Vermont Yankee's out-of-state owners.

Two days after the votes were counted, that company announced it may unload the 38-year-old plant.

Michael Burns is a spokesman for Entergy, the Louisiana company whose performance in Vermont became a campaign issue. He said the company expects interest from multiple potential buyers.

(Burns) "And if a sale turns out to be the best option to ensure the continued operation of the plant, that's what we'll do. The biggest concern for us is the future of 650 men and women who work at the plant."

(Dillon) The Vermont Senate voted last February against a new 20-year operating license for Vermont Yankee. The vote came after radioactive tritium was discovered in the groundwater - despite the company's statements that the plant did not have underground pipes that could leak.

As president of the Senate, Democrat Peter Shumlin led the anti-Yankee vote. In his campaign for governor, Shumlin railed frequently against Entergy Louisiana.

As governor he may soon be dealing with a new owner of Vermont Yankee. Would that change his mind?

(Shumlin) "I've been really clear about Vermont Yankee. The plant should be retired on schedule in 2012."

(Dillon) Governor-elect Shumlin said hundreds of workers would still be employed during a lengthy decommissioning process. And he said that while Entergy lost the trust of Vermonters, a new owner may not be able to fix all the problems with the plant.

(Shumlin) "We all know that the challenges at the plant are not just trust. It's leaking tritium, strontium, cobalt, other substances. I have said consistently this is my judgment that this may be the most serious manmade environmental disaster in the state's history."

(Dillon) Yankee is expected to soon win federal safety approval for a new 20 year-license.

But Bob Stannard, a lobbyist for Citizens Action Network, said the plant is simply too old.

(Stannard) "Every other plant built in this era has been closed. This plant is way beyond its designed usefulness. And they have had mishap after mishap."

(Dillon) But Governor Jim Douglas, who leaves office in January, said a new owner could help restore confidence in the future of Vermont Yankee.

For VPR News, I'm John Dillon in Montpelier.

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