Vermont loses petition to keep Emergency Response Data System at Vermont Yankee

first_imgNorthstar Vermont Yankee,Vermont Business Magazine The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel assigned to review the State of Vermont petition regarding the preservation of the Emergency Response Data System (ERDS) at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant has denied the petition in a 2-1 decision. (The ASLB is a quasi-judicial arm of the NRC that handles hearing requests and petitions and conducts hearings.) The ASLB panel states in the decision that ERDS, which provides a direct electronic data link from plants to the NRC and allows the agency to monitor critical plant parameters during an emergency, is only required for plants with operating reactors under existing regulations. Vermont Yankee went off-line in December. There is a dissenting opinion from one member of the three-member panel. The state has 25 days to appeal the decision.Vermont had argued that either (1) ERDS must remain operational while Vermont Yankee is permanently shut down; or (2) Entergy must provide an alternate means similar to ERDS to supply Vermont with radiation monitoring information, meteorological information, and containment parameters relevant to spent fuel pool conditions for as long as fuel remains in the pool.RELATED: Vermont Yankee goes off-line for last timeHowever, the Board wrote in its decision: “In our view, the relief sought by Vermont is inconsistent with the exception provision in 10 C.F.R. Part 50, Appendix E, Section VI.2, which exempts “all nuclear power facilities that are shut down permanently” fromproviding an ERDS link.” It said, in addition, that Vermont’s “assertion ignores the plain language of the exception provision, which unequivocally exempts licensees of “all nuclear power facilities that are shut down permanently” from providing “onsite [ERDS] hardware.”In dissenting from the other two members of the Board, Dr Richard E Wardwell wrote: “In its LAR, Entergy asks permission to reduce its staffing upon the shutdown of Vermont Yankee to levels that are predicated in part on the premise that the ERDS link will be retired pursuant to Entergy’s reading of Section VI.2 of Appendix E to 10 C.F.R. Part 50 (Section VI.2). Vermont contests Entergy’s right to disconnect the ERDS without adequately demonstrating that this would not reduce the margin of safety by increasing the potential consequences from emergency actions during an accident due to the loss of crucial data. The majority opinion accepts Entergy’s and NRC Staff’s (Staff’s) claim that Vermont’s proposed contention is a collateral attack on NRC regulations, while Entergy and Staff also maintain that it is not within the scope of the proceeding and Entergy claims that it lacks material support.”The majority’s opinion (rejecting Vermont’s contention) rests on an interpretation of the first sentence of Section VI.2, which states that “[e]xcept for . . . all nuclear power facilities that are shut down permanently or indefinitely” (exemption clause), operating plants must provide the hardware for an ERDS, and electronically assemble and transmit the data. The majority maintains that the “exemption clause” not only excuses those plants that were inactive at the time of rulemaking from installing and operating an ERDS, but also allows licensees of plants that installed and operated an ERDS to shut down the system at decommissioning without seeking further agency approval.”I disagree. A more logical reading of Section VI.2 is that the “exemption clause” only applies to those plants that were already shut down at the time of the rulemaking and not to plants at which an ERDS was later installed. Moreover, in my opinion, under either interpretation of Section VI.2, Entergy must still adequately assess the impact of shutting down its active ERDS before taking such action to assure no reduction in the effectiveness of its emergency plan and, in turn, no adverse impact on public health and safety. Therefore, I would find Vermont’s contention admissible and must dissent.”last_img

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