Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vermont Environmental & Land Use Law, October 25, 2011

Photo by bluebirdsandteapots on Flickr

Mass. congressman questions Yankee's truthfulness, Burlington Free Press
A Massachusetts congressman is demanding to know whether the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has anything to say about the truthfulness of public statements made by the owners of the plants it regulates.

Rep. Edward Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, wrote Friday to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko to complain that a spokesman for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant had made statements “at odds with the factual history of the plant,” and that the “NRC had not appropriately responded to concerns raised about this issue.”

Markey’s letter came nearly three months after the incident in question. On Aug. 2, the Vermont Health Department announced that the radioactive isotope strontium-90 had been found in the flesh of small-mouth bass caught in the Connecticut River about 9 miles upstream from the reactor in Vernon. The plant is about three miles from the Massachusetts line; the river flows through Massachusetts and Connecticut before emptying into Long Island Sound.

Markey took issue with a statement issued by Vermont Yankee spokesman Larry Smith saying that “There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Vermont Yankee is the source for the strontium-90” in the fish.
Vermont fund helps those recovering from Irene, WCAX
The Vermont Community Foundation says its Irene recovery fund for special and urgent cases has awarded $99,000 to 21 nonprofit groups, such as a food shelf that suffered water damage, a senior center that provided support to evacuated community members and a theater group whose building was flooded. The foundation says total contributions received or pledged to the fund exceed $250,000. The grants, which fund up to $5,000, are available to nonprofits, schools and municipal groups that were damaged by Irene or face challenges in providing services for those affected by the storm. The foundation continues to accept applications.
Vt. groups wants party status in Wal-Mart case, WCAX
Two organizations opposing a planned Wal-Mart expansion in Bennington plan to appeal a decision by a state panel denying them party status.

Meg Campbell, a representative for Citizens for Greater Bennington, says Bennington has invested significantly in its downtown and the proposed expansion could have an impact on the financial health of downtown businesses.

The Vermont Natural Resources Council says citizens have submitted 50 affidavits with concerns the expansion might have on water quality, traffic and downtown businesses, and whether it complies with the town.

The groups want full-party status in the case. They said Monday they plan to appeal the Act 250 district commission's decision to the Vermont Environmental Court.
St. Albans Farmers Settle With State In Pollution Case, VPR
The state of Vermont has reached a settlement with a St. Albans dairy farmer charged with polluting Lake Champlain. But an environmental group says the settlement is weak, and will not serve as an effective deterrent against future farm pollution problems...

The case began more than a year ago and the farmer and the state have very different versions of what happened. Inspectors for the Agency of Agriculture met three times with farmer David Montagne to warn him that one of his farms had the potential to pollute St. Albans Bay.

Then, according to court documents, inspectors last March say they witnessed manure travel down a ditch, through a culvert and enter the bay. So the state went to court to stop the pollution. Assistant Attorney General Michael Duane describes what happened next.

(Duane) "The Montagnes denied the fact they had a discharge. The state felt that there was evidence of a discharge. And the case was resolved by having the Montagnes agree to the issuance by the court of a permanent injunction against them from having any discharges from that portion of their farm."

(Dillon) The settlement does not require the Montagnes to pay a fine and they maintain that they didn't cause any pollution. But it does say they'll have to pay a $2,000 penalty if they violate the court order and allow manure from the farm to reach the lake.
Court orders clean-up and $20,000 in penalties against former Milton junkyard owner for environmental violations, press release at vtdigger.com
The Vermont Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, ordered former junkyard owner Gilbert Rhoades to clean-up the Milton site following its finding of environmental violations earlier this year, including removal of all tires at the site within 90 days. The Court ordered Rhoades to pay$20,000 in civil penalties and Rhoades and his wife, Blanche Rhoades, to reimburse the State $24,857.58 for past investigative costs.

The Court’s ruling follows a May 11th hearing in an environmental enforcement action brought by the Attorney General’s Office based on inspections by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.