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An effort by legislators in Vermont to close the only nuclear power plant in the state has been struck down by a U.S. District Court judge. In the court decision, the judge ruled that only the federal government is authorized to regulate nuclear safety.
The boiling water reactor located near Brattleboro was granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission an extension of 20 years to its original operating license of duration of 40 years which is due to expire in March this year. A state law which was passed in 2010 and coupled with earlier regulatory measures from 2006 would have compelled the plant owner, Entergy, to decommission the Vermont Yankee.
The utility company filed a lawsuit against the Legislature, contending that it had overstepped the bounds of its authority. And in a court ruling Thursday made by District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha, he agreed saying that the legislation “was grounded in radiological safety concerns,” which according to legal precedents, are solely within the province of the federal government.
In a press release that was issued by Entergy after the ruling, the company stated, “We’re pleased with the decision, which Judge Murtha issued after a thorough review of the facts and the law. The ruling is good news for our 600 employees, the environment and New England residents and industries that depend on clean, affordable, reliable power provided by Vermont Yankee.”
At present, the future of the litigation remains uncertain. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, in a statement issued after the ruling, said, “I continue to believe that it is in Vermont’s best interest to retire the plant. I will await the attorney general’s review of the decision to comment further on whether the state will appeal.”