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State In Talks With Vermont Yankee Over Groundwater Issues

Mark Walker, far right, talks to NDCAP members during a meeting in Brattleboro. Walker works for Energy Solutions, the hazardous waste management company that is moving contaminated water off the Vernon site.
Howard Weiss-Tisman
/
VPR
Mark Walker, far right, talks to NDCAP members during a meeting in Brattleboro. Walker works for Energy Solutions, the hazardous waste management company that is moving contaminated water off the Vernon site.

State officials were surprised last month when they found out Vermont Yankee was storing low-level radioactive water in swimming pools. But now, the incident has lead to improved communications between Entergy administrators and the state.

At a meeting in Brattleboro of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen Advisory Panel Vermont, radiological health chief Bill Irwin said state officials heard about the groundwater issues at VY through a news report.

"Initially, there was great disappointment that we had to learn about this, essentially through the press," Irwin says. "The end result, however, is that it has opened up a really important dialogue that should have existed before we had to have an incident like this."

Vermont Yankee Government Affairs Manager Joe Lynch says the shuttered plant is simply using much less water in its operations, and so there is more groundwater flowing through the site.

Lynch says water has been flowing into the basement of the turbine building, and once it is inside the building it has to be treated as low-level contaminated waste.

Entergy is now trucking the contaminated water to a processing facility in Tennessee.

The company trucked out about 30,000 gallons of water so far, and Lynch says that number could reach 80,000 gallons before the leaks are entirely controlled.

Entergy didn't violate Nuclear Regulatory Commission protocol dealing with the water.

But Vermont Yankee site Vice President Chris Wamser says the company should have done a better job reporting the issue to state officials.

Copyright 2016 Vermont Public Radio

Howard Weiss-Tisman is VPR's southern Vermont correspondent.

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