Anti-nuclear group asks PSB to postpone upcoming Yankee hearings
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | February 06,2013
BRATTLEBORO — Less than a week before the high-stakes Public Service Board hearings on the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, an anti-nuclear group has asked the board to postpone the hearings.
The New England Coalition wants the technical hearings on Yankee’s re-licensing halted until the Vermont Supreme Court decides an appeal filed by Entergy Nuclear 10 days ago.
“We’re not looking to delay the proceedings,” said coalition attorney Jared Margolis on Tuesday. But Margolis said to spend enormous amounts of time and money holding the hearings while the issue over Yankee’s future was pending before the state’s highest court was “a huge waste.”
Margolis said he didn’t believe the appeal filed by Entergy Nuclear on Jan. 25 was “supportable,” but that he also didn’t want to go through the hearings only to have the Supreme Court “negate the Public Service Board’s orders.”
Last month, the Public Service Board dismissed its original Vermont Yankee re-licensing docket, which was filed in 2008, noting it had ruled last year the two sides had to start all over again because there had been significant changes and much of the information was “stale.”
Entergy filed an appeal of that order, and also asked the Vermont Supreme Court to issue it a new certificate of public good, based on the original 2008 re-licensing case.
Margolis noted that Entergy Nuclear’s lead attorney Kathleen Sullivan and other Entergy attorneys had argued in favor of starting all over again in front of the PSB, only to file the appeal.
“Even when the Board asked the parties their position last year about starting a new docket, they agreed,” Margolis said, adding it was the latest example of Entergy saying one thing only to later change its mind.
Entergy Nuclear had filed for a new certificate of public good in 2008, and the state had held hearings in 2009. But the pending case was put on hold after the 2010 Legislature failed to give its approval to Yankee’s continued operation. A federal court decision shot down the law that gave the Legislature that power, clearing the way for the Public Service Board to resume the hearings.
But the board decided it needed to start from scratch, citing new information, including the radioactive tritium leak at Vermont Yankee during the winter and spring of 2010.
Margolis said the board had given all parties in the re-licensing case until Wednesday to file reactions.
One attorney, Sandra Levine of the Conservation Law Foundation, said she thought the hearings shouldn’t be delayed.
“It is important for the PSB proceeding to move forward. It is already taking too long and further delay is not justified,” Levine said.
Geoff Commons, the director of public advocacy for the Department of Public Service, which acts as the public’s advocate during the hearings, didn’t return a message requesting comment.
An Entergy spokesman said the company would have no comment on the pending issue.
Margolis said the state Department of Public Service was “putting a huge effort” into the upcoming hearings, which are due to start Monday, last a week, skip a week, and resume for another week.
“Entergy keeps going back on themselves and it’s all double talk,” said Margolis, referring to 2002 promises made by Entergy executives that it would not contest the state’s authority over its continued operation. “I think it’s an attempt to confuse. We believe re-licensing is not in the public good.”