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Little time remains for VY citizen comment

State agency seeks citizen comment until Nov. 25 on decommissioning report

BRATTLEBORO—Citizens wanting to weigh in on Entergy’s decommissioning plans for Vermont Yankee nuclear plant have less than a week to get their comments to the Department of Public Service (DPS).

The public comment period ends Nov. 25.

Few opportunities exist for the public to give direct feedback on two critical reports that will set the foundation of VY’s decommissioning process call SAFSTOR. Federal regulations allow up to 60 years for decommissioning under SAFSTOR.

VY’s owner, Entergy, has submitted draft versions of its site assessment study (SAS) and Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) reports to the state.

According to a press release from the DPS, the department will consider including the public comments with the state’s evaluation of the two draft reports that it will give to Entergy.

“These are important documents because they are foundational to the decommissioning and site restoration process, and discussions about that process,” said Chris Campany, executive director of the Windham Regional Commission (WRC).

Comments may also be considered for discussion at a future Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) meeting.

Under the settlement agreement reached between VY’s owner Entergy and the state, Entergy must consider feedback on the two reports from three state agencies before those reports go to federal regulators, said Campany.

These state agencies are the DPS, Agency of Natural Resources, and the Department of Health.

To read a copy of the settlement, visit publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/psd/files/Announcements/VY_Settlement/VY_Settlement_Agreement_131223.pdf.

According to Campany, he asked the DPS to actively seek public comment.

“This is all voluntary on Entergy’s part,” he said of Entergy sending its draft reports to the state agencies for feedback.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) process for plant owners’ decommissioning plans is to accept what the owner’s present. It’s not an approval or evaluation process, added Campany.

Timelines set out in the settlement agreement are driving the short public comment period for the SAS and PSDAR.

Ultimately, what appears in the PSDAR is “Entergy’s prerogative,” said Campany. “This is not a PSB process.”

In Campany’s view however, these reports provide an opportunity for larger conversations.

The PSB process is by nature an adversarial one similar to a court hearing, he said. Conversations happen through lawyers.

The WRC has served as an intervening party in many Public Service Board hearings involving Entergy.

It’s refreshing to be sitting across the table from Entergy and having a dialogue for a change, said Campany, who also serves on the NDCAP panel.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #281 (Wednesday, November 19, 2014). This story appeared on page A1.

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