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Rep. Upton wants nuclear plants relicensed quicker

Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is criticizing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the time it is taking to consider license renewal applications from aging nuclear power plants.

The Pilgrim Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Vermont Yankee Power Plant in Vernon, Vermont, have licenses that are set to expire in 2012 and have not received decisions on renewal applications submitted five years ago, he said.

“Today marks an unfortunate milestone for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as the timeline for the reactor renewal process has now doubled without explanation, eclipsing 60 months with no end in sight for the Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee plants,” Upton said in a statement. “With a dozen outstanding renewal applications, the alarming rate of delay has put thousands of good paying jobs in jeopardy and has threatened to disrupt a reliable source of clean, affordable energy for surrounding communities and businesses.”

In the case of Entergy-owned Vermont Yankee the delay is related to safety concerns.

In August 2007 decayed wooden beams at that plant resulted in the collapse of a cooling tower.

Last year it was discovered that the plant was leaking the radioactive isotope tritium into ground and surface water and the Vermont Senate voted against allowing the state regulators to issue the plant a state license.

Earlier this month Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin told the the Associated Press that Entergy is “a company we can’t trust.”

“The plant is old and leaking,” he said. “There’s no place to store the (radioactive) waste. The world has changed and we need to change with it. It’s time for it to sleep.”

Just this week Vermont Yankee announced that it had detected a new tritium leak.

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