Historic Decision: Vermont Senate Votes To Retire Nuclear Plant

Feature story - February 25, 2010
The Vermont State Senate voted to retire the Vermont Yankee Nuclear plant, owned by the Louisiana based corporation Entergy. Despite Entergy’s efforts to renew the license for the 40-year-old reactor, the Vermont Senate voted to shut down the nuclear plant as scheduled in 2012. The final vote was 26-4.

This vote may be followed by a vote in the House of Representatives. If either body votes to deny an extension of a certificate of good (the equivalent of a state license), - as the Senate has -the plant must shut down.  Vermont is unique in that it is the only state in which the legislature has the ability to vote to shut a plant and this historic vote will mark the first time a plant has been closed by a state legislature.

A host of problems have plagued the Vermont nuclear plant, from missing fuel rods to the collapse of cooling towers to the uncontrolled and unmonitored releases of radiation into the groundwater.  On Monday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) acknowledged yet another radioactive leak  from the reactor in 2005. The NRC is currently investigating allegations by Vermont Yankee employees about radioactive leaks from underground piping.

Despite President Obama's announcement last week of 8.3 billion dollars in loan guarantees to build the first new nuclear plant in thirty years, the illusion of a nuclear renaissance is going to suffer a setback with the vote in Vermont.

Get the latest on Vermont Yankee from the Greenpeace blogs