A Setback for Nuclear Power

Yesterday the Vermont state senate voted overwhelmingly to block renewal of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant’s license after 2012.  The NYT reports:

In an unusual state foray into nuclear regulation, the Vermont Senate voted 26 to 4 Wednesday to block operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant after 2012, citing radioactive leaks, misstatements in testimony by plant officials and other problems.Unless the chamber reverses itself, it will be the first time in more than 20 years that the public or its representatives has decided to close a reactor.

The vote came just more than a week after President Obama declared a new era of rebirth for the nation’s nuclear industry, announcing federal loan guarantees of $8.3 billion to assure the construction of a twin-reactor plant near Augusta, Ga. . . .

In a small, ornate chamber packed with plant opponents, the Vermont senators voiced frustration over recent leaks of radioactive tritium at the 38-year-old plant as well as the collapse of a cooling tower in 2007 and inaccurate testimony by the plant’s owner, the Louisiana-based nuclear operator Entergy.

Plant officials had testified under oath to two state panels that there were no buried pipes at Vermont Yankee that could leak tritium, although there were. No tritium has turned up in drinking water, but even plant supporters expressed dismay at the leak and the misstatements.

According to the story, the facility will be forced to close unless both houses of the Vermont legislature pass a certificate of public  good before the current license expires in 2012.