Vt. AG won't charge Vermont Yankee officials with perjury

John O'Brien Jul. 6, 2011, 11:56am

MONTPELIER, Vt. (Legal Newsline) - Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell has no plans to pursue criminal charges against nuclear power provider Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee.

Sorrell said Wednesday that he has completed his criminal investigation of statements made by current and former employees of Vermont Yankee regarding underground piping that carried radionuclides. Sorrell says he lacks sufficient probative evidence to prove perjury.

The remarks in question were given to state officials before the leak was discovered in 2010. An internal investigation by the company concluded last year that the company did not intentionally mislead state officials.

"Clearly, Vermont Yankee personnel repeatedly failed to meet a minimally acceptable standard of credibility and trustworthiness, but proving that perjury took place is another matter entirely," Sorrell said.

"We lack the smoking gun necessary to prove the crime and it would be unethical and irresponsible for us to press criminal charges when we do not have the evidence to meet our heavy burden of proof."

"Five senior employees were placed on administrative leave for their comments regarding underground piping to the state's Public Service Board, Department of Public Service and Public Oversight Panel, or a contracting firm working for the panel.

"While there was no intentional wrongdoing, it is not consistent with our expectations at Vermont Yankee or in the nuclear industry, nor is it consistent with our values at Entergy," site vice president Michael Colomb said.

A whistleblower has alleged Entergy has attempted to patch leaks of radioactive tritium without shutting down the plant.

Vermont Yankee's license expires in March 2012. Vermont's Senate voted 26-4 not to extend the license, but Entergy has asked for a preliminary injunction against the vote.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has already granted a 20-year extension to Entergy, but the company also needs approval from both houses of the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Service Board.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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