Vermont bill would hold nuke to shutdown promise

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 7, 2013 at 5:37 pm •  Published: February 7, 2013
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont lawmakers are looking to firm up a promise made by the owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant that it would take extra steps to clean up the plant's Vernon site.

Entergy Corp., based in New Orleans, promised when it bought Vermont Yankee in 2002 that it would take steps beyond the minimum required by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restore the site after the plant no longer generates electricity.

The House Natural Resources and Energy Committee rescheduled, from Thursday until next week, testimony on a bill that would require Entergy to put $40 million into a special trust fund to pay for the difference between the federal and the more stringent state cleanup requirements.

An Entergy spokesman did not immediately reply Thursday to an email request for comment. The company has voiced strong opposition to similar legislation in the past, and former Gov. Jim Douglas twice vetoed similar bills.

The cleanup bill is expected to reopen a front in a long-running political and legal war between Vermont and its only nuclear plant. Gov. Peter Shumlin and fellow Democrats sought previously to force the plant to close through a series of legislative maneuvers that prompted Entergy to sue the state in federal court in 2011.

The company prevailed in the first round, but the case is now before a federal appeals court.

The new legislation also comes against the continuing backdrop of accusations by state officials that Entergy is breaking promises it made when it bought Vermont Yankee. Chief among them was a promise company officials made that they would shut the reactor down if they didn't have a new state permit in hand by March of 2012.