Judge: Vermont Can't Shut Down Nuke Plant

Federal judge says only federal government can regulate nuclear safety
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2012 6:25 AM CST
Workers man the control room at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)
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(Newser) – Vermont is the only state with a law allowing it to have a say over whether a nuclear plant's license should be renewed, but a federal judge has slapped down Vermont's attempt to withhold such a renewal. The judge ruled that Vermont Yankee, the state's only nuclear plant, can continue to operate after its original 40-year license expires in March, the New York Times reports. The judge decided that Vermont was trying to regulate nuclear safety, something only federal regulators—who recently granted the plant a license to operate for another 20 years—are allowed to do.

State lawmakers said that wasn't so, but the judge maintained that the record clearly showed that legislators were trying to close the plant because of "radiological safety concerns." The Times notes that before voting in 2010 not to grant the renewal, public opinion of the plant was battered by way of a 2007 collapse of a cooling tower and the 2009 revelation that underground pipes were leaking radioactive material. "I continue to believe that it is in Vermont’s best interest to retire the plant," says Gov. Peter Shumlin, who led the fight to close the plant when he was leader of the state Senate. The state's attorney general is reviewing his options for an appeal, reports the Burlington Free Press. (Read more Vermont stories.)

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