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August 30. 2013 11:48AM

NH forms group to monitor Vermont Yankee decommissioning

CONCORD – A group of state officials will work to ensure New Hampshire's natural resources are protected and communities are safe, while assisting displaced workers during the decommissioning of the 41-year-old Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vt.

Gov. Maggie Hassan announced Friday that the group will work to enhance coordination within state government as well as with neighboring states and the federal government, in response to Entergy Corp.'s announcement earlier this week that Vermont's only nuclear power plant will close in 2014.

Entergy, based in New Orleans, said it was shutting down the reactor based on natural gas prices, the high cost of running the single-unit plant and "artificially low" power prices in the region.

New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Perry Plummer will head the group whose roll is to monitor plans for the closure and decommissioning process to ensure public safety and emergency preparedness are top priorities and coordinate with neighboring states to provide assistance to workers; and coordinate the deployment of resources as needed.

"Throughout what will be an ongoing decommissioning process for Vermont Yankee, we will need careful management and effective coordination among a variety of partners in order to ensure that our communities and workers are fully supported and protected," the Governor said. "Our Vermont Yankee working group will strengthen our response efforts and help make sure that the proper resources are getting to those in need at the right place and right time."

State Sen. Molly Kelly (District 10), who represents New Hampshire communities closest to the nuclear plant, said the group's formation is a welcome announcement.

"Open communication and coordination between all parties has always been absolutely essential and will continue to be critical moving forward as we seek to help workers and to protect our communities and environment, and I look forward to working with the group to support those affected by the closure," she said.

Other officials participating in the working group are from the Public Utilities Commission, Governor's Office of Energy and Planning, Department of Environmental Services, New Hampshire Employment Security, Department of Resources and Economic Development, the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services, Radiological Health Section.

Entergy filed suit against Vermont to prevent it from closing down the reactor, winning renewal of the plant's license in 2011 and allowing it to operate until 2032.

"The plant was no longer financially viable," Entergy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Leo Denault told Bloomberg News. "We did everything we could to try and keep this plant open from a financial standpoint. That's why we fought the battles we fought legally."

New Hampshire's Seabrook Station nuclear power plant is owned by NextEra Energy; its current license expires in March 2030. NextEra applied for a license extension with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2010. The renewal would extend the license to 2050, but is being held up by objections from several environmental groups.


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