Governor Shumlin Discusses Entergy Lawsuit

by Aimee Lawton

Governor Shumlin discussed Entergy’s lawsuit against the state during his weekly press conference on Thursday. He said that Entergy is not complying with the laws of the state of Vermont.

“I’m a little astounded that we think that just because Entergy has deep pockets, because they’re a powerful corporation, because they are good at answering to their stockholders by making a lot of money for them that they shouldn’t be held to the same standard as Vermonters in complying with our laws,” Shumlin declared.

When asked how much the lawsuit will cost the state, the Governor responded, “We hope it will cost as little as possible.”

“The best outcome,” he said, “would be that we go to federal district court and abide by the decision of federal district court. But as you know, all these matters are appealable and we’ll have to see.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has deemed VT Yankee safe and has issued the plant a license to operate another 20 years. The state is only allowed to deny continued operation of the plant if the plant is deemed “unreliable”.

Shumlin was questioned about a statement regarding VT Yankee he had made in the past that was quoted in the lawsuit (see video). The Governor claimed that the statement was about reliability, not safety, and therefore not an issue.

He said that the legislature was very careful not to focus on safety because they accept and understand that that is something that is dealt with by the NRC.

“When I made that statement, it was in regard to the reliability of the plant, “Shumlin said, “reliability meaning pipes that they told us didn’t exist seemed to be leaking nuclear radon in to the ground. That would suggest that the plant isn’t reliable for another 20 years if the existing infrastructure is leaking.”

“I believe,” he continued, “that reliability of the plant is a problem, and that’s been evidenced by collapsing cooling towers, by leaking pipes, and other maintenance issues that certainly should be a concern to us all.”

When asked if Vermont Yankee was unsafe, Shumlin responded by saying that it was the plant’s reliability that he was concerned about, and that he had made that clear.

“I trust the NRC to regulate safety,” he said.

He continued to further discuss his concerns of reliability when a follow up question was posed, asking him if he was personally concerned about the safety of the plant.

“You know, I’m not going to speculate on the safety except to say this-it’s an old, tired plant that wasn’t designed by twenty-first century engineers and it wasn’t built with twenty-first century specifications. I think that the reliability of the plant is based on the fact that it was designed to be shut down in 2012 by the people who built it when I was a little kid. And as we’ve seen in Japan, we’re not dealing with twenty-first century technology.

Shumlin claimed that there appeared to be broad support from Entergy for the bill that was signed into law by Governor Jim Douglas in 2006 that gave the legislature power to approve the continued operation of nuclear plants in the state, something that he said they are now objecting to. He added that he didn’t know if there was anything in writing where Entergy showed their support for the bill, but he stated that it wasn’t necessary for them to do so.

Entergy disputes this claim and argues that, while it did try to abide by the new law, it never agreed with it:

“Despite Entergy’s disagreement with the 2006 state law, the company has made considerable effort to achieve state approvals to allow the continued operation of Vermont Yankee without resorting to litigation.”

Shumlin concluded, “Vermonters don’t need Vermont Yankee’s power to have cheap, reliable, and competitive power.”