Northstar Vermont Yankee,As expected, the Nuclear Regulatry Commission this afternoon approved the application of Entergy Vermont Yankee to relicense the plant another 20 years, as it denied the last remaining objection by the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution. The official approval is expected to be handed down within the next few days.The Vernon nuclear plant’s license was to expire in March 2012. The plant must still get approval from the Vermont Legislature and the Public Service Board. It seems the legislative approval would be unlikely, given that it overwhelmingly voted against the extension one year ago. However, Entergy, based in New Orleans, has indicated it may try and circumvent the legislative approval and go to federal court. The NRC has approved every license extension that has been requested to date.Meanwhile, reaction to the NRC’s action was swift. The IBEW Local 300, the electricians’ union and longtime supporter of the relicensing, issued this statement:‘The IBEW welcomes today’s announcement by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it will grant a renewed license for Vermont Yankee through 2032. As the chief regulator for all American nuclear power plants, the NRC has an excellent record for safety and environmental protection. Its relicensing process has been long and thorough. ‘The IBEW hopes that today’s announcement will prompt Vermont utilities and Vermont Yankee plant owner Entergy to finalize a power contract for the duration of the 20-year license. We also urge state officials to support the plant’s continued operation. The IBEW stands ready to cooperate in any way to keep the hundreds of Vermont Yankee employees on the job delivering reliable low-cost, low-carbon power to Vermont homes and businesses.’Governor Shumlin, who led the fight to deny the relicense last year as a state senator, said: ‘Today’s vote from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not unexpected, and does not change the fact that Vermont Yankee still needs approval from the state to continue operating beyond its 2012 license expiration. I am pleased that the NRC is reaffirming Vermont’s authority to determine the plant’s future. Given the serious radioactive tritium leaks and the recent tritium test results, the source of which has yet to be determined, and other almost weekly problems occurring at this facility, I remain convinced that it is not in the public good for the plant to remain open beyond its scheduled closing in 2012.’Vermont Yankee employs about 600 at its plant in Vernon and headquarters in Bratlteboro, about 200 of whom live in Vermont. Vermont Yankee must make a decision whether to make an approximate $50 million fuel purchase within the next few months. Fuel cycles typically run in 18-month cycles and the next one would be scheduled for December.