Consultants say VY decomm study flawed

From the Rutland Herald:

Vermont needs to launch a new study on the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant because the most recent one is flawed, outdated and has a conflict of interest at its core, nuclear consultants for the Legislature told a House committee Wednesday.

The most recent study on the complicated process of decommissioning the Vernon power plant was written by a company that is owned by Entergy, which also owns Vermont Yankee, the consultants, Arnie and Maggie Gunderson, told the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

“When the company that owns the reactor is also telling you how much it’s going to cost to dismantle it, there’s at least the appearance of a conflict of interest,” said Arnie Gunderson. “I would suggest more than that: There is a conflict of interest.”

The Gundersons, who own the nuclear consulting company Fairewinds Associates, said widely diverging estimates of the cost of decommissioning are the major reason that an independent contractor should perform a new study.

Those decommissioning estimates were based on studies performed by the Entergy-owned TLG Services Inc. and ranged from a low of $500 million to a high of nearly $1 billion.

Despite the Gundersons’ calls for a new study, Rep. Tony Klein, an East Montpelier Democrat who heads the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, said he doesn’t think there will be one.

Klein said he and other legislators already believe there is a huge gap between the $465 million in the decommissioning fund and the actual cost of dismantling the plant.

“And a new study is not going to tell us anything different than that,” Klein said.

In addition, it would be hard to find the money to pay for the study, Klein said, though he didn’t know how much a new analysis would cost. The state can’t afford it, Klein said, and Entergy — which funded past decommissioning studies — no longer has an incentive to pay.

“The only leverage we were holding over Entergy was they were hoping against hope they would be able to talk us into letting them operate,” Klein said.

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