Aging Vermont Yankee Reactor Relicensed as Japan Crisis Unfolds

Aging Vermont Yankee Reactor Relicensed as Japan Crisis Unfolds

For Immediate Release


Nick Berning, 202-222-0748, [email protected]; Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722, [email protected]

Aging U.S. Nuclear Plant Gets 20-Year License Extension from Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Vermont Yankee plant uses same reactor model involved in crisis in Japan, and had previously leaked radioactive tritium into groundwater

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday extended the operating license of the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor plant, even though the plant has leaked radioactive material and uses a Mark 1 boiling water reactor—the type of reactor currently experiencing multiple failures in Japan and causing growing radioactive contamination.

“It is stunning that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would rubber stamp the use of this aging reactor for another two decades, and it’s outrageous that it would do so just days after announcing a 90-day review in response to the crisis in Japan. This move calls into question the seriousness of that review,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth. “Vermont Yankee is home to the same type of reactor implicated in the nuclear emergency in Japan, and just last year aging pipes at Vermont Yankee leaked radioactive materials into groundwater, producing radiation readings 37 times the federal limit.”

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision is reckless. It’s a big favor to the nuclear industry but a slap in the face to the public in Vermont, where elected representatives have voted to retire the aging plant,” added Pica. “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission should place an immediate moratorium on reactor licensing given what is happening at Fukushima.”

In 2010, the Vermont Senate voted 26 to 4 in favor of retiring the aging nuclear plant as scheduled. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has also strongly supported retiring the plant. A survey conducted in February 2010 found that 68 percent of Vermont residents would support closing Vermont Yankee in 2012.

A poll released today by the Civil Society Institute found that more than half of Americans want “a halt to the United States extending the operating lifespan of its oldest nuclear reactors.”


Friends of the Earth and our network of grassroots groups in 76 countries fight to create a more healthy, just world. Our current campaigns focus on clean energy and solutions to climate change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and products we use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them. 

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