News Releases

January 27, 2010

Governor Douglas’ Statement Calling for Transparency, Changes and Time-Out for Vermont Yankee Decision

The recent revelations at Vermont Yankee have raised many questions from my Administration, the federal government, the Legislature, the press and, most importantly, Vermonters.

The safe and reliable operation of the Vermont Yankee plant is an important part of our energy and economic future and it is critical to those Vermonters whose jobs depend on its operation.

My Administration has made clear that we cannot support its relicensing without a favorable power agreement, a sound plan for decommissioning and assurances about safety and reliability – which are, of course, our primary concerns.

I continue to believe that these determinations must be left to the regulators at the state and federal levels. Decisions that impact so many Vermonters must be based on the best scientific information and evaluated objectively outside of the political fray.

In all regulatory matters there must be transparency and honesty from the regulated entity. When any of these elements are called into question, the regulatory process itself is compromised. What has happened at Vermont Yankee is a breach of trust that cannot be tolerated. In order to move forward on whether or not the plant will continue to operate, questions need to be answered, changes need to be made and the trust of Vermonters must be restored.

Entergy now finds itself under investigation at every level.

- The NRC and our Departments of Health and Public Service are working with others to determine the source of the tritium leak and assess any safety and health implications.

- The Agency of Natural Resources is reviewing ongoing ground and surface water tests for environmental contamination.

- The Public Service Department is reinstituting its independent vertical audit to fully assess the underground pipe system, in cooperation with the Public Oversight Panel.

- The Public Service Department is demanding an independent verification of the sufficiency of the decommissioning fund given the prospects of contaminated soil on the Vernon site.

- Today, the Public Service Board required Entergy to submit prompt and complete corrections to any inaccurate information it has provided and a description of what steps it will take to rectify the situation.

- And the Attorney General has launched an investigation to ascertain whether there is any criminal behavior by Entergy officials.

I have spoken with Entergy CEO Wayne Leonard, and he assured me that he is taking recent revelations and discoveries seriously and he has instituted a full and thorough investigation into this matter by an outside law firm.

That’s not good enough. We need action.

If Entergy is serious about rebuilding Vermonters trust and restoring its credibility, it must acknowledge its mistakes and make immediate corrections.

Now is not the time for Entergy to circle its wagons. If it is serious about securing a future in Vermont, Entergy must be fully transparent and provide the State unfettered access to all its investigations – internal and otherwise. It must be willing to make personnel and records available to investigators and to waive any attorney-client or other privileges that may attach to these investigations. Letting the sun shine in will be an important and powerful statement about the company’s commitment to make things right.

And like many Vermonters, I have lost trust in the current management team and I have been disappointed that changes have not already been made. So today I am calling on Entergy to make immediate, necessary changes in management as well.

Until questions regarding the current circumstances are answered, decisions about the long-term future of the plant should not be made. I am directing Commissioner O’Brien to request a stay from any further action by the Board on the Enexus spin-off until the investigations have run their course and Vermonters can be confident in the transparency and honesty of the company’s management.

Further, with so many ongoing investigations, unanswered questions, and my own unease with previous information we have received from Entergy management, I can no longer ask legislators to vote this year on whether the Public Service Board should be allowed to decide the case for relicensing. Therefore, I am calling for a time-out.

Until Entergy reestablishes its credibility, we should not move forward on a decision of such importance to the safety of our people, the livelihoods of so many and the economic and energy future of Vermont. When we can again say with resolute clarity that we can depend on the management of the plant and ensure public health and safety, only then can we move forward with the consideration of the plant’s long-term future.

The ultimate question of Vermont Yankee’s future is not being decided today, but the events of the last two weeks have raised dark clouds of doubt that must clear before we proceed.

We have high expectations from the management of a nuclear power plant – and rightly so. Vermonters are understanding, but never suffer fools. We expect better, we deserve better, and, now, we demand better. The trust that’s been broken can be repaired, but it must begin with swift and determined action – and it must begin today.

Source: Office of the Governor
Last Updated at: January 27, 2010 16:07:48