MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A panel that advises Vermont state policymakers on activities at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on Wednesday passed a resolution urging prompt dismantlement after the reactor closes next year.
Adoption of a recommendation much less aggressive in tone than one considered and tabled last week came after one panel member warned that the tougher stance could prompt more court battles with plant owner Entergy Corp.
"I think it's long past the time we should start negotiating with Entergy instead of litigating," said Rep. Mike Herbert, R-Vernon, a member of the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel. "We don't do well at that, and it's costing our taxpayers and ratepayers a lot of money."
Last week, the seven-member panel, due to absences and abstentions, failed to muster majority support for a resolution calling on the state Public Service Board, which regulates utilities, to condition a new operating permit for Vermont Yankee on an agreement by Entergy that it would pursue prompt decommissioning of the Vernon reactor.
A resolution approved Wednesday said the panel urged state officials to pursue a strategy to "promptly release the site for unrestricted use." But the resolution stopped short of urging that a new permit for the plant be conditioned on prompt dismantlement.
Entergy announced Aug. 27 it would close the now 41-year-old reactor when its current fuel cycle ends late next year due to poor economic performance in a wholesale electricity sector made hypercompetitive by power plants using low-cost natural gas.
The announcement was welcomed by some in Vermont, a state with a strong anti-nuclear movement whose Senate had voted in 2010 to block the Public Service Board to grant the plant permission for continued operation after 2012.
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