Pollution and joblessness spark debate about Vermont Yankee

Pollution, joblessness, and leaking radioactive chemicals were the issues that confronted the SGA in a resolution regarding Vermont Yankee.The SGA passed the resolution that supports the closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant because of concerns about the environmental impact and a tritium leak, despite the threat of joblessness for its employees.Vermont Yankee is leaking tritium so fast, and we can’t seem to find the hole, State Senator Peter Shumlin said at the SGA meeting on Feb. 16. Vermont Yankee and its resulting regulatory violations and environmental threats made it long overdue to be shut down, SGA Senator Marty Frye said.”If not now then when will we decommission it?” he said.However, SGA senators said they were equally concerned that closing Vermont Yankee would leave over 600 people without jobs. “I’m not going to argue that tritium exposure is a good thing,” SGA Chair Mike Glynne said. “But how many people will lose their jobs if the plant is decommissioned?”    The plant employs over 600 people and has a payroll of roughly $93 million, Glynne said. The possible dangers of pollution from Vermont Yankee do not outweigh the reality of unemployment for those who work there.”I’m not saying it shouldn’t be shut down,” Glynne said. “I’m just saying it’s too soon. The deficit is a big deal in the state, and that’s why I’m voting no.”SGA Finance Chair, Nick Cafarelli said he agreed. “You don’t quit a job until you have a job.” In addition, he said he doubts the state’s ability to secure alternative energy sources in the years following the plant’s decommission.However, Vermont Yankee pays comparatively little taxes to the state, and more tax revenue could be generated through deals with alternative energy companies, SGA Senator Mikayla McDonald said.Despite concerns about jobs and alternative energy, the resolution passed.Vermont Yankee’s relicensing vote is scheduled to take place before town meeting day on March 2.  If the state government does not relicense the power plant, it will be closed.”We are at the precipice of making a really important decision,” Shumlin said.