Vt nuke plant owners seek injunction

April 22, 2011

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MONTPELIER, Vt.—Vermont Yankee nuclear plant's owners, who filed suit this week over whether the state can legally close the plant, are now seeking a court order that would prevent that from happening until courts have ruled on the jurisdiction challenge.

Entergy filed a request for a preliminary injunction Friday in U.S. District Court in Burlington, asking a judge to preserve the status quo and bar the state from shutting down the nuclear power plant in Vernon.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently granted Vermont Yankee a new 20-year operating license.

But the state of Vermont, which contends it has the power to close the plant in March 2012, appears unlikely to agree to a renewal of its state permit.

No hearing has been set on the request for preliminary injunction.

On Monday, two Entergy Corp. subsidiaries -- Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee and Entergy Nuclear Operations -- filed the civil suit, naming as defendants state Attorney General William Sorrell, Gov. Peter Shumlin and the members of the state Public Service Board.

State officials say they have every right to exercise control over the continued operation of Vermont Yankee, whose original permit expires in March 2012. The state Senate voted 26-4 last year against renewing it. Under a 2006 state law, Entergy's owners need the OK of the Legislature to continue operating the plant past March 2012.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, who wants the plant closed, didn't respond to a request for comment on the filing Friday. Nor did Sorrell.

In an affidavit submitted to the court Friday in support of Entergy's motion, the company's chief nuclear officer says uncertainty about Vermont Yankee's future is making it hard to retain the plant's specialized, skilled workers. John T. Herron says that increasingly, employees leaving their jobs at the plant are citing uncertainty as the reason.