Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant is located in Vernon, Vermont, on the shores of the Connecticut River. The power plant is owned by the Entergy Corporation, which is based out of Louisiana. The plant began operating in 1972 and meets more than a quarter of the power needs of the entire state of Vermont. The plant has been a topic of much controversy recently in Vermont due to legal battles over its relicensing. While some in the state would like to see the plant shut down completely, others see it as a vital source of energy to the Green Mountain State.

An official inspection by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave Vermont Yankee high marks and found only minor faults. This inspection was held back in 2008. Since this time the plant has admitted to many leaks of tritium into the ground and groundwater surrounding the plant that has caused much concern to local residents. In 2007 a three story wall at one of the cooling towers of the plant suddenly collapsed. Though the water that was released did not pose a threat of radioactivity, one report from the Brattleboro Informer indicates that asbestos panels may have been broken in the collapse

The use of asbestos was very common in the 1970s when the plant was built. Asbestos was used as a protectorate against heat buildup, and a 2008 reliability assessment by NuclearSafety Associates found asbestos wrap around the plant’s piping. Unfortunately, the use of asbestos has led to many illnesses and lawsuits as it has been proven to harm human life when ingested in even minor amounts. The condition of mesothelioma results from asbestos exposure and the results of exposure can show up decades after the exposure has occurred.

It is recommended that those who have worked at the plant or any structure where asbestos was used in the construction consult with health professionals to test for any adverse effects from exposure. The cooling tower event at Vermont Yankee has caused the plant to undergo intense scrutiny and Entergy has claimed to have remedied the problems that led to the collapse. The fate of Vermont Yankee now stands with the legislature and governor of Vermont who will decide whether the plant will continue to operate past the date of 2012.