MONTPELIER -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is faulting the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant for distributing and tracking tone-alert radios, devices used in case of emergencies or attacks, in its evacuation zone.
Lacking a registry of who in the zone had the radios, Vermont Yankee could not determine in a recent inspection where additional radios might be needed, the NRC said in a letter to the plant's manager on Friday.
The agency wrote to Jay Thayer, site vice president at Vermont Yankee for plant owner Entergy Nuclear, that ''because of the lack of an updated registry, it could not be determined to what extent tone-alert radios were needed within the emergency planning zone and, therefore, there existed a level of uncertainty on how the system was to be maintained."
The radios sound a tone to get a listener's attention, then issue announcements from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about an emergency, with instructions about where to tune to on a regular radio to get more information.
The tone-alert radios are used in areas unreachable by sirens near the zone.
The radio range extends to a 10-mile radius from the reactor in Vernon, in Vermont's southeast corner, to parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
The NRC gave the issue a ''white" rating, saying it posed a safety problem of ''low to moderate significance." The agency has used a color-coded ranking system for such problems since 2000. Red indicates a high significance for safety; yellow reflects substantial concern; , white reports low to moderate importance; green signifies little reason to be concerned
''The real issue is that there's not a good accounting of who's getting these radios, and that could raise some questions about the proper maintenance of these devices," said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC's Northeast regional office in Pennsylvania. ''We're also pointing out that we don't believe it's an immediate safety concern."
Robert Williams, spokesman for
Williams said people wanting a radio could call 802-258-4168.