BRATTLEBORO - After nearly a decade of analysis, legal and public hearings and backdoor wrangling and pages upon pages of paperwork, the Agency of Natural Resources finally released its draft thermal discharge permit for Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.

And even though the agency concluded that the formula submitted in support of Entergy's 2005 application was inadequate, because the plant will be closing at the end of the year, it will allow the plant to operate under the assumptions of the formula, but with conditions.

"The Agency has the authority and responsibility to address Vermont Yankee's thermal discharge," said ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz. "In releasing Vermont Yankee's draft permit we officially begin the public comment period on this permit."

The Connecticut River Watershed applauded the agency's decision.

"The draft permit upholds the Connecticut River Watershed Council's contention that bad science underwrote the thermal discharge limits in the previous permits," stated a press release issued on Wednesday.

The formula in question is a modeling tool that only predicts but does not measure the actual water temperature and discounts any other source of temperature increase like the effects of sunlight.

"The Agency has concluded that Equation 1.1 is not an adequate method of determining the increase in river temperature above ambient," states a fact sheet released with the draft permit.

"As we have said all along, the Clean Water Act does not allow for a solar discount. The Act requires that thermal discharges be measured fully. Fish don't do math but they know when they are in hot water," said David Deen river steward for CRWC

The draft allows Entergy, which owns and operates the plant, to use the modeling tool through the closure of the plant while also imposing actual temperature caps as compliance triggers.

"Compliance with the temperature caps assures that the facility's thermal discharge will maintain the water body's balanced, indigenous population of shellfish, fish and wildlife," stated the CWRC press release.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.