Police: Fire at Vt. nuclear plant office was arson

AP News
Posted: Sep 20, 2011 7:24 PM
Police: Fire at Vt. nuclear plant office was arson

Someone set an early morning fire at the corporate offices of a nuclear power plant that is fighting to stay open, police said Tuesday.

No one was injured, but the building that houses offices for the Vermont Yankee plant was unusable because of smoke, fire and water damage, a spokesman for the plant's owner said.

Police said in a news release that a window at the corporate offices in Brattleboro was broken and investigators determined the fire was arson. They would not provide more details.

There was no damage to the plant's lone reactor, which is about seven miles south of the office building, in the town of Vernon.

New Orleans-based plant owner Entergy Corp. and the state of Vermont have been tangled in a bruising fight over whether the plant should be allowed to operate beyond March. The company has sued to keep it running and a federal judge is expected to rule sometime this fall. Lawyers for both sides argued their cases earlier this month.

Entergy spokesman Larry Smith said people have protested at the office building but it has never been damaged.

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"If it's determined that this was a deliberate act, it would be the most brazen, I think, act towards Entergy that we've ever seen, and it would be very disturbing," Smith said before police announced they were calling it arson.

The corporate building includes a basement with testing laboratories. It houses the plant's communication equipment and its public and government relations offices.

The two-story building's sprinkler system alerted the fire department at around 3 a.m. Tuesday.