"In Vermont, Nuke Power Faces a Test"

"VERNON, Vt. — The pro-nuclear governor here has gotten a cream pie in the face. Compost has been thrown on a nuclear power plant manager. Protesters, including several grandmothers, have been arrested for trespassing at the plant gate.

This was not what President Obama, who hopes to spark a renaissance in nuclear power, had in mind this year when he urged an end to "the same old stale debates between the left and the right, between environmentalists and entrepreneurs." In Vermont, the same old debate rages on. As an embattled nuclear plant seeks to extend its operating life — and become a symbol of the conflict over whether to expand nuclear power — it's "no nukes" vs. "pro nukes," and not much in between.

The no-nukers are winning. On Feb. 24, the state Senate voted 26-4 to close 38-year-old Vermont Yankee when its license expires in two years, even though it employs 640 people; pays $16.5 million a year in state and local taxes; provides one-third of Vermont's power, and helps make the state's carbon footprint the region's smallest.

Vermont Yankee is one of more than two dozen aging U.S. reactors that have leaked radioactive tritium from underground pipes. Its case has cast a pall on the revival of nuclear power and revived the anti-nuclear movement."

Rick Hampson reports for USA TODAY April 16, 2010.

Friday, April 16, 2010