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Environmental Law Society to Host Panel on Vermont Yankee

February 2, 2010

CONTACT: John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- The Environmental Law Society's Advocacy Group will host a panel on the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant at 5:30 p.m., Tues., Feb. 9 in the Chase Community Center at Vermont Law School. The event is free and open to the public.

VLS students will start the program with an overview of the controversial Vermont Yankee facility, which supplies about 30 percent of Vermont's energy and 2 percent of the total energy on the New England power grid.

"Energy cooperatives throughout the state are already seeking alternatives to Vermont Yankee and looking to safer, cleaner alternatives," said student Meredith Crafton. "Vermonters currently have a unique opportunity to influence their representatives on this decision. Vermont's energy future is being decided now."

Vermont Yankee, the state's lone nuclear reactor, is seeking a 20-year renewal of its operating license, which expires in 2012. Utility regulators, state legislators and the state Public Service Board recently criticized Vermont Yankee's management for making misleading statements about radioactive tritium that was found in a groundwater monitoring well at the plant and underground pipes near the Connecticut River. Plant officials said the elevated tritium levels present no risk to public health or safety.

Gov. Jim Douglas wants lawmakers to delay a vote on the plant's relicensing request and its owners, New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., to replace the plant's top managers in an effort to restore public confidence. Douglas also wants the Public Service Board to delay a decision on Entergy's plan to sell Vermont Yankee and five other nuclear reactors to a newly created company called Enexus because of concerns the new firm couldn't afford to dismantle Vermont Yankee when the plant has to be decommissioned. Vermont is the only state in which the legislature has approval over relicensing nuclear plants.

The VLS panel will include James Moore of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, who will discuss Vermont Yankee's role in the state's power structure and how the plant can be replaced, and Vermont Law School Assistant Professor Don Kreis, who will speak on the Entergy/Enexus corporate spinoff proposal.
Arnie and Maggie Gundersen will discuss nuclear safety, oversight and the role of the law and the Vermont legislature. Maggie Gundersen is a paralegal specializing in environmental, nuclear safety and energy litigation in federal and state administrative law hearings. Arnie Gundersen is a nuclear engineer and has coordinated projects at 70 nuclear power plants nationwide. He is a consultant to the Vermont legislature on Vermont Yankee, serving on the independent oversight panel that reviewed the plant's reliability last year. The Gundersens' analyses of the shortfall in Vermont Yankee's decommissioning fund resulted in a national review of gaps in decommissioning funds at many nuclear power reactors around the country.


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