BRATTLEBORO — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is holding an unusual public meeting next week on the status and condition of the cooling towers at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.
The public meeting comes after the NRC sent a special inspection team to Vernon to look at the towers in July, after the towers again started leaking, this time because of missing brackets.
The meeting will be held from 4 to 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Latchis Theater in downtown Brattleboro.
Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC, said NRC officials will be on hand to answer the public's questions, and that Entergy Nuclear is also expected to have people on hand to answer questions.
Sheehan said the meeting was promised by federal officials after the July leaks were found and the special inspection team was sent to Vermont. At that time, about 60 gallons a minute were leaking from a pipe in the east tower.
In all three cases, Entergy Nuclear was forced to reduce power production because it took the tower offline to conduct repairs.
The nuclear reactor is expected to shut down for about a month later this month for its regular refueling and maintenance outage and Entergy Nuclear officials have said that the cooling towers would undergo a partial overhaul this winter, a rebuilding project spread over several years.
Vermont Yankee typically only uses the cooling towers during the warm weather months, from May until October, when the temperature of the Connecticut River rises. The cooling towers are needed because of state environmental discharge permits that control the temperature of the water discharged back into the river.
The cooling towers, with the exception of two cells in the West Tower, are not considered part of the plant's safety system.
Sheehan said the session would also cover the third set of problems which were discovered last month, when a different set of leaks were discovered.
Cooling towers have been a hot topic at the state's only nuclear reactor ever since the Aug. 21, 2007, partial collapse of the West Tower.
That collapse was blamed on "iron rot" of hardware holding the tower together and rot attacking the wooden structure, which is constantly wet.
The problem forced Vermont Yankee to reduce power for several weeks, and ended up costing Central Vermont Public Service Corp. about $2.4 million in replacement power costs and other costs.
Contact Susan Smallheer at email@example.com.MORE IN Southern VermontBENNINGTON — Ask author and Bennington College graduate Charlotte Silver if the title of... Full StoryPresident Calvin Coolidge was remembered in all sorts of ways Saturday on the 143rd anniversary... Full StoryPresident Calvin Coolidge was remembered in all sorts of ways Saturday on the 143rd anniversary... Full Story
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