Yankee Agrees To Continue Pumping Contaminated Water

12/17/10 5:49PM By John Dillon
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(Host) At the request of Governor-elect Peter Shumlin, Vermont Yankee has agreed to resume pumping contaminated groundwater at its site in Vernon.

VPR's John Dillon has more:

(Dillon) As state senator and gubernatorial candidate, Peter Shumlin was a persistent critic of Entergy, the company that owns Vermont Yankee. But after his first visit to the Vernon plant as governor-elect, Shumlin was praising the plant's response.

(Shumlin) "The good news for Vermonters is that Entergy has agreed to turn the pumps back on to try to pull as much of the contaminated tritium out of the soil as possible."

(Dillon) Tritium was discovered last January in the groundwater in a monitoring well near the Connecticut River. The problem was traced to leaks in underground pipes. Entergy removed about 300, 000 gallons of contaminated water, but suspended the pumping operation last month.

Shumlin criticized that decision, saying that radioactive water could still reach bedrock and possibly an aquifer that's used for drinking water.

A state Health Department official had also urged Yankee to resume pumping.

Shumlin said he was pleased with Entergy's decision.

(Shumlin) "Well, I'm very happy they've agreed to do that. It's really important that we try and get as much of the irradiated water out of the system as we can - out of the soil and obviously keeping it out of the ground water and the aquifer. So it's really important to pump. I'm thrilled they're willing to pump. And I'm grateful to them for taking our concern and taking action."

(Dillon) Yankee spokesman Larry Smith said the pumps will start up again before the end of the year.

(Smith) "I think it was a very good discussion on the hydrology at the site, our remediation efforts and the next steps. And the next step will be to resume extracting from two new wells, with two new pumps and then to assess where we are going forward."

(Dillon) Shumlin said his visit mainly covered the hydrology and tritium contamination issues. He said he remains convinced that the plant should be retired when its 40-year license expires in 2012.

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

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