Vermont Congressional Delegation Requests NRC Investigation Into Radioactive Leak Risks At Vermont Yankee

WASHINGTON – Vermont’s Congressional Delegation – Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), and Rep. Peter Welch (D) – Friday asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct a thorough investigation into whether there was any attempt by Vermont Yankee officials to mislead state officials regarding the plant’s safety and underground piping. Press reports have suggested that officials from Entergy, which owns the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, may have provided inaccurate information to investigators about the risk of leaks at the facility. The text of the delegation’s letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko is below:

January 15, 2010

The Honorable Gregory B. Jaczko
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Dear Chairman Jaczko:

We are writing in response to the alarming news that Entergy, owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, may have misled state officials regarding the safety of the plant.

Elevated levels of radioactive tritium have recently been found in a groundwater monitoring well on the plant site and we understand from recent news reports that Entergy has confirmed that underground piping is among the possible sources of the contamination.  According to various reports in the media, this comes after Entergy Vermont Yankee officials had told state investigators, on a number of occasions, that there was no underground piping carrying water that could contain radioactivity.   This leak highlights our ongoing concerns about Entergy Vermont Yankee’s commitment to safety and to being forthright with the public and state and federal regulatory and safety agencies.

We therefore request that you undertake an immediate and thorough investigation to determine if there was an attempt by Entergy Vermont Yankee to mislead state officials regarding the plant’s safety and underground piping. Please also determine whether information provided by Entergy to the NRC has been accurate, complete, and consistent with that provided to the State of Vermont.  We hope you can pinpoint exactly what Entergy knew about the extent of their underground piping and this leak, and when they knew it.  We would also like to know whether and why state regulatory agencies were not made aware of the extent of underground piping and the risk it posed prior to this incident, and whether communications to the NRC have been complete and timely.  Finally, we would like the NRC to continue to work with the plant to determine the cause of the leak and resolve the situation as quickly as possible to avoid any further release of radioactive materials.

Please continue to keep us thoroughly informed as more information becomes available.  We are committed to assisting Vermont and the NRC to ensure that the Entergy Vermont Yankee plant meets its safety obligations.  We appreciate your timely attention to this issue.



United States Senator


United States Senator 


United States Representative 



David Carle (Leahy):  202 224-3693  202 224-3693

Michael Briggs (Sanders):  202 224-5141  202 224-5141

Paul Heintz (Welch):  202 226-8346  202 226-8346

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Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693