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GMP, CVPS sue Vermont Yankee over tower collapse

Source: Burlington Free Press.com post    11:51 AM, Jan. 10, 2012 
Written by Terri Hallenbeck

Vermont’s two largest utilities – Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service – are suing Entergy Corp. over the 2007 and 2008 cooling tower collapses at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

The lawsuit, filed in Vermont Superior Court in Windham County, accuses Entergy of costing the two utilities $6.6 million to buy power elsewhere when the plant shut down after the tower failures, GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said.

Entergy could have prevented that by doing more hands-on inspection of the towers, Schnure said. Entergy failed to enact common practices used in the nuclear industry, she said.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission determined that the first tower failure was a result of over-tightened bolts and salt and mold degradation that went undetected, the utilities said.

On Aug. 27, 2007, the plant reduced power for 11 days because of the tower collapse, according to a news release from the two utilities.

In July 2008, the plant reduced power for 12 days following a second collapse, the utilities said.

Steve Costello, spokesman for CVPS, said the two utilities have tried to obtain compensation from Entergy without success. With the statute of limitations nearing expiration, he said, the companies filed the lawsuit.

Vermont Yankee spokesman Larry Smith said the company would have no comment because it is pending litigation.

Vermont Yankee is the subject of another lawsuit that is expected to yield a ruling any day now. Entergy is suing Vermont, challenging the state’s authority to shut the plant down when its certificate of public good expires in March.

The two utilities’ contracts for power from Vermont Yankee end in March and regardless of what happens with Entergy’s lawsuit against the state, will no longer receive power from the plant after that.

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