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Vt. nuclear plant to refuel despite uncertainty

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The owner of Vermont’s only nuclear power

plant plans to move forward with a $60 million refueling this fall

despite uncertainty about whether it will be able to operate beyond

March, when its current operating license expires.

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New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., which is locked in a legal battle

with the state over the future of the Vermont Yankee plant, said

the company’s attorneys felt the company would eventually win its

legal battle with the state.

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Earlier this year, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued Vermont

Yankee a 20-year license extension that would allow the plant to

remain open until 2032. But the state, which claims it has

jurisdiction over the plant’s operation, wants the plant to close

and has so far not acted on a state certification that it says is

needed for Vermont Yankee to remain open.

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Entergy’s lawsuit challenging the state is scheduled to go to trial

in September.

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“Our board believes both the merits of the company’s legal position

and the record strongly support its decision to continue to trial

scheduled to begin on Sept. 12,” said Entergy CEO J. Wayne Leonard.

“On that basis, the decision was made to move forward with the

refueling as planned.”

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Saturday had been the deadline for ordering the fuel rods that will

be used in the refueling, scheduled for October.

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Vermont Yankee said Monday that during a typical 30-day refueling

outage, approximately 120 fuel assemblies, or one-third of the

reactor core, are replaced.

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While the refueling is under way, about 5,000 other maintenance

chores are performed that can only be done when the plant is shut

down.

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