With the re-licensing of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon coming up in 2012, folks on both sides of the issue are making their viewpoints known.
Vermont Yankee applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a 20 year extension on its license four years ago this month. The application is currently under review, and a decision is expected before the current license is up.
The Green Mountain Outlook has printed literally dozens of letters to the editor about the relicensing over the last several months.
Recently a group of relicensing opponents marched past our offices in downtown Bellows Falls, part of the Step It Up Walk, an anti-nuclear protest march that started in Brattleboro on Jan. 2 and ended 120 miles away at the Vermont State House in Montpelier on Jan. 13.
It is the contention of those opposed to relicensing that the 40 year old plant has lived out its original license and could be structurally unsafe to continue on another 20 years because of its age. They are also concerned about the storage of used fuel rods on the site.
Numerous letters from supporters of the relicensing of the plant, including from engineers who have worked at Vermont Yankee, contend that a continuous program of maintenance and equipment upgrades at the plant has not only maintained the structural quality of the facility, but that it's in better shape in many ways than when it was first constructed.
They also note that it provides a third of Vermont's electrical energy needs without the carbon pollution created at coal and gas plants, and is one of the largest businesses in the area, with 650 employees.