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Welch stresses jobs and safety following decision to close Vermont Yankee
U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, (D-VT) made the following statement regarding Entergy Corporation's plan to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant:
"My thoughts are with the employees of Vermont Yankee. This dedicated workforce has always been steadfast in their professionalism and commitment to the operation of the plant," Welch said.
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission must now take a vigilant role in ensuring that the plant is safely decommissioned and the site returned to usable status as quickly as possible. This closure provides a potential opportunity as we look for ways to advance Vermont's energy future and to find new jobs for Vermont Yankee employees. I will work closely with the governor and the state's delegation to ensure the safe and swift dismantling of the plant and secure the economic vitality of the Windham County region."
Leahy urges prompt decommissioning of Vermont Yankee
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) says safety should remain the highest priority as Entergy prepares to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The company announced Tuesday plans to close the aging plant in 2014.
Leahy said, "Safe decommissioning of Vermont Yankee is an issue of enormous and overarching importance for Vermont. Every precaution must be taken to insure public and worker safety during the decommissioning and to insure that we do not leave a public safety nightmare for future generations of Vermonters."
Entergy has said that they intend to employ the "SAFSTOR" approach, meaning they intend to mothball the plant, largely intact, for 20 or more years before cleanup is fully addressed. In 2011, Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) wrote to the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) expressing their deep concerns about the SAFSTOR approach as it might be applied to Vermont Yankee. Their letter said, in part: "SAFSTOR would let Entergy off the hook for cleanup, waste disposal and remediation of the plant site in Vernon, Vermont, for years, or even decades."
Instead, Leahy noted, moving quickly to full decommissioning and cleanup would have the added advantage of using the plant's current highly skilled and experienced workforce, rather than trying to train a new generation of workers with the plant and its older technology decades from now.
Leahy said the NRC should now be pressed to approve a decommissioning approach which places the highest priority on safety, now and into the future and not to sacrifice the public interest in the interest of Entergy's bottom line.
Leahy said, "The full cost of this decommissioning needs to be paid by the plant owner and must not become a burden for Vermont or for the federal government."
Leahy also said that while Vermont Yankee contributes to the regional power grid, none of the electricity currently generated by Vermont Yankee is sold in Vermont, though a significant portion of Vermont's electricity purchases do come from other nuclear power plants. Leahy said, "Now is the time for Vermonters to refocus our attention on increasing our energy efficiency and bringing online alternative clean and renewable energy sources. This is added impetus for offsetting as much of Vermont Yankee's capacity as possible through those better, cleaner and sustainable alternatives. The cheapest energy of all is the energy we don't use."
Vermont Yankee shutdown is 'good news,' Sanders says
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) welcomed Entergy Corp.'s decision to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
"I am delighted that Entergy will shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant which has had so many problems in recent years. There is a strong desire on the part of the people of the state of Vermont to close the plant that was scheduled to operate for only 40 years," Sanders said.
"The closure will allow Vermont to focus on leading the nation toward safer and more economical sources of sustainable and renewable energy like solar, wind, geothermal and biomass," added Sanders, a member of the Senate energy and environment committees.
While welcoming news of the shutdown, Sanders said the jobs of Vermont Yankee employees must be preserved while the plant is safely decommissioned.
"Entergy must go through a decommissioning process as soon as possible, a process which will require many workers," Sanders said. "Clearly there are no people who know the Vermont Yankee plant better than those who are currently employed and they should be given top priority for those new jobs."
The company has indicated it favors a decommissioning method that could result in decades of delay. As a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Sanders said he will work aggressively to make sure the decommissioning process starts as soon as possible.