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Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel Reviews Plant Deconstruction And Waste Disposal

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant
Courtesy NRC and Entergy Corp.
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Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant before decommissioning

The Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel has been holding a series of meetings reviewing the deconstruction of the former Vermont Yankee nuclear facility and long-term storage of its waste. The latest meeting was Monday.

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant shut down December 29, 2014 and dismantling and decommissioning of the plant is ongoing.

Five years earlier, the state of Texas licensed a facility in west Texas to accept low level nuclear waste and in 2012 it began receiving waste from Vermont Yankee after it created a compact with Vermont.

Texas/Vermont Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission Vermont Commissioner Peter Bradford explained that high level waste, or spent fuel, is not allowed to be stored at the Texas site so Vermont Yankee’s spent fuel remains in Vermont. Bradford told the advisory panel that the NRC this month issued a license to the owner of the Texas nuclear waste site allowing such a facility to be built.

“However the state of Texas enacted a law that specifically prohibits storing spent fuel in Texas. So there’s potentially quite a playing field for lawyers coming up as Texas and the federal government try to sort out just who has the ultimate say over whether or not this facility can be built," explained Bradford. "There’s a similar application pending for a facility not far across the border in New Mexico. But New Mexico also opposes its construction.”

The company that is decommissioning Vermont Yankee provided a status report. NorthStar Vermont Yankee Senior Manager Corey Daniels said they are ahead of schedule and making progress disassembling the reactor vessel.

“Once the reactor vessel is disassembled we can begin in earnest also dismantling the interior of the reactor building. So we can then take it down when we take down, or shortly after taking down, the turbine building superstructure starting the middle to end of next year.”

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Waste Management Division is working with NorthStar regarding non-radiological on-site contamination. Hazardous Site manager Gerold Noyes reported quarterly ground water sampling continues.

“Pumping continues. And testing of that water showed that it was clean groundwater with no radiological or non-radiological contamination. And when it was shown to be clean it was then discharged to the Connecticut River under an ANR permit.”

Department of Public Service Public Advocacy Division Attorney Eric Guzman explains that the department reviews the financial performance of the decommissioning project and fiscal health of NorthStar to make sure there is adequate funding to complete the project.

"The current nuclear decommissioning trust balance is approximately $307.7 million as of August 31st of this year and the site restoration trust is at $58.8 million as of August and all disbursements are for work already completed.”

The Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel will hold its next meeting on December 7th.

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