The Obama administration last week issued a loan the first new nuclear project to be initiated in decades, part of their plan to revive the nuclear industry in the United States. But amid the renewed enthusiasm for nuclear power, the Vermont legislature voted on Wednesday to shutter its only nuclear plant after the revelation that the owner had mislead officials about the plant's safety.
The state senate voted 26-4 against a 20-year extension for the Yankee power plant (Vermont is the only state that gives the legislature a say in permit applications). The plant, owned by Entergy Nuclear, has been in operation for 37 years and its current license will expire in 2012. Over the past few months, isotopes of radioactive cobalt, zinc, and tritium have been found to be leaking from the plant.
Last year, vice president of operations at Entergy Nuclear Jay Thayer testified under oath to the Vermont Public Service Board that weren't any underground pipes carrying radioactive water from the plant. It later became abundantly clear, after a panel of nuclear experts looked into it in October, that there were pipes under the plant carrying radioactive waste. Entergy later admitted that there were in fact 40 pipes under the plant. Follow-up studies found that those those pipes have been leaking hazardous waste for years and the levels of radioactive contamination are growing in several on-site wells at the plant.