Shumlin Wants More Radioactive Water Pumped From Yankee

12/07/10 5:50PM By John Dillon
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(Host) Governor-elect Peter Shumlin wants Vermont Yankee to keep pumping radioactive water from its site in Vernon.

Yankee suspended the pumping last month. But Shumlin says plant operators should resume the pumping operation to protect underground water supplies.

VPR's John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) The governor-elect said he was not satisfied with Yankee's work to remove contaminated water at the site. And he said that as of January 6th - when he takes office - he will demand action from the nuclear plant operator.

(Shumlin) "I've made clear that it's penny wise and pound foolish. I'm very concerned about it. I wish that they would turn the pumps back on. If I were governor right now, I'd be insisting that they turn the pumps back on."

(Dillon) At issue is radioactive tritium that leaked from the plant and is seeping down to bedrock toward an underground aquifer. Tests in October showed that tritium had reached a deep well on the plant grounds that had been used for drinking.

Entergy Vermont Yankee removed 309,000 gallons of contaminated water, but operators halted the pumping last month.

Shumlin said that was the wrong decision.

(Shumlin) "I'm not a geologist. I'm not a nuclear engineer, but it defies logic that you would have highly radioactive materials in the ground - you have an opportunity to pump them out and take them away, or leave them in the ground to either run down or east into the river - seems to me you pump as much as you possibly can."

(Dillon) Yankee announced last week that tritium at relatively high concentrations had been found 60 feet down at bedrock in two new monitoring wells.

That's another reason to resume pumping, Shumlin said.

(Shumlin) "It's a cheap option to pump compared to the challenges of an aquifer that has nuclear waste in it."

(Dillon) Yankee spokesman Larry Smith said public water supplies have not been contaminated. He said plant officials were considering Shumlin's request to resume pumping.

(Smith) "We're assessing data collected by existing and new sentinel wells and will take all measures necessary. And Entergy is committed to working cooperatively with the new administration going forward. We will provide a response to Governor-elect Shumlin as soon as possible."

(Dillon) Shumlin also wants Yankee to test the environment - including fish in the Connecticut River - for other, more dangerous isotopes that may have escaped from the plant.

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


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