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Public Service Board Wants To See 'Private' Documents On Proposed VY Sale

The company that wants to buy Vermont Yankee says it should be able to keep some of its documents private during the state regulatory process.

But the Public Service Board ruled last week that it wanted to first review those records before deciding if they should remain off limits during the public hearings for the VY sale.

NorthStar is an industrial demolition company that says it can decommission the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant decades ahead of the 2060 date that the plant's owner, Entergy, proposed to finish the work.

NorthStar needs federal approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service Board.

As part of the state regulatory proceedings, NorthStar said it didn't want to divulge how much it was going to be paid for the various jobs required to complete the job of decommissioning the Vernon site.

The Conservation Law Foundation opposes NorthStar's request. Senior attorney Sandy Levine says the public should have access to the information.

"These documents address exactly what NorthStar plans to do in terms of cleaning up the Vermont Yankee site," Levine says. "Keeping all of this information secret, and treating it as super-highly confidential, really undermines public confidence in the actions they're taking."

But NorthStar CEO Scott State said the company has already included more than 1,500 documents in the case, and he says these two specific documents should remain off limits to the public during the regulatory process.

"Through numerous public forums and community meetings, NorthStar has worked very hard to help all stakeholders understand our plan to safely decommission and clean up the Vermont Yankee site decades ahead of schedule," State wrote in an email message. " Our request for a special review protocol strikes a fair balance by allowing Vermont agencies and other parties to review the information in these two documents in a format that reduces the risk that NorthStar’s trade secrets will become available to our business competitors."

In a letter sent to the board on the day after the board's ruling, the company said it wants assurance that the documents will not be released, even if the board rules against the special consideration.

The Public Service Department and the Agency of Natural Resources have both supported NorthStar's request to keep the details private.

"NorthStar is concerned that if the board does not adopt the special protocol, that the documents will be subject to broader disclosure under the Board-approved protective agreement," attorney Joslyn Wilschek wrote.

In its ruling, the Public Service Board said it wanted to review the documents first before deciding if they should remain secret.

Updated Wednesday, May 31 at 4:45 p.m. to include comments and information from NorthStar.


Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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