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Nuclear Plant Closures at All-Time High

Entergy logoAnother nuclear plant will soon close, bringing the number making such announcements this year to five – an all-time high.

Entergy announced it would close the 41-year-old Vermont Yankee plant next year, citing low natural gas prices, high operating costs as well as “artificially low” power prices, Bloomberg reports.

But the company’s battles went well beyond costs and competing technologies. State officials have been trying to close down the reactor – the only one in Vermont – for years. State legislators passed laws in 2005, 2006 and 2008 to make it tougher for the plant to renew its operating permits. Just this month, a federal appeals court upheld a lower-court ruling against the state’s efforts to close the plant.

The latest closure announcement follows similar news from Southern California Edison and Dominion.

The new reality for nuclear operators – between the shale gas boom and post-Fukushima public apprehension – is tougher than ever. But worries about nuclear are not without foundation, as continuing revelations about the Japanese reactor highlight. The industry may be paying the price now for years of less-than-stellar oversight. And while those plants with dubious safety records may be particularly vulnerable to closure, they will not be the only ones to suffer.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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