A federal judge said Monday he would not order that Vermont's only nuclear plant be allowed to remain open while a lawsuit to determine its long-term future plays out.
The state is moving to close the Vermont Yankee plant, with both the governor and the state Senate on record as wanting it to close when its initial 40-year license expires next March.
The plant's owner, New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., got a 20-year license extension for Vermont Yankee from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and filed a lawsuit arguing that the federal action pre-empts the state's effort to close the plant.
Last month, Entergy went to court asking for a preliminary order allowing it to stay open while the underlying lawsuit works its way through the courts — possibly all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In Monday's order, Judge J. Garvan Murtha said there was no need for such an order because the main trial in the case is scheduled for mid-September, only eight weeks away.
"The motion is denied, because Entergy has failed to show that any irreparable harm it may incur between now and a decision on the merits" of its lawsuit, Murtha wrote.
During two days of hearings in late June, Entergy lawyers and witnesses told Murtha that they needed a decision on the preliminary injunction by July 23 so the company could order the specially fabricated nuclear fuel it needs to load into the reactor core during a refueling outage set for October.