Vermont Yankee on the Hot Seat
Voters in roughly 40 towns in 10 counties will cast ballots on whether the state’s lone nuke plant should get a 20-year extension on its 40-year operating license. Several others will take up the matter under "other business," according to Dan DeWalt, the former Newfane selectman who spearheaded a similar statewide ballot initiative urging Congress to impeach then-Pres. George W. Bush.
The group — Replace VY — has signed up towns ranging from Holland (my old hometown) to Halifax to take up the anti-VY measure. Bolton is the only Chittenden County town on the list. Brattleboro and Montpelier are the two most populous communities who will include the item on the ballot.
Several towns are planning informational meetings on the vote in the coming two weeks prior to Town Meeting Day, and have invited Entergy and its relicensing opponents to make their cases before townspeople.
The Vermont Public Interest Research Group and other opponents have signed on for the debate, but so far Entergy has balked at showing up to make its case directly to the people. There's a reason, an Entergy spokesman tells Blurt.
"Our focus is on operating the plant safely and reliably," said Rob Williams, VY's spokesman. Entergy is focused on the legislative and regulatory processes and doesn't see responding to the Town Meeting Day ballot items as a good use of their time and money. "The legislative and the PSB processes are simply the best use of our resources. However, as we have said on energy issues over the years, the more discussion the better and we support anything that contributes to better understanding of complex energy issues."
It's also not helping Entergy's case that it has failed to plug a leak in a key pipe valve, and it may need to shut down operations in order to make the repair. It has also failed to strike a power contract deal with Vermont utilities, a deal some lawmakers believe is crucial to settle before they vote on whether to extend VY's license beyond 2012.
In addition to calling for VY’s shutdown, the ballot measure also calls for Entergy to fully-fund the plant’s decommissioning fund at the time the nuclear power plant is shut down. For more info, and to get a list of dates where these issues may, or may not, be debated before Town Meeting Day, check out www.replacevy.org.
In addition to these debates, other anti-nuclear groups are hosting presentations about the health risks of nuclear power, featuring German pediatrician Winfred Eisenberg. Performances of Voices from Chernobyl, which catalogues the consequences and some personal costs of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, are also happening around the state. For more info, check out www.vyda.org.