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Officials report significant progress in deconstructing the VT Yankee Nuclear Power Plant

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

The full Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel held its second regular meeting of the year Monday evening to receive updates from state agencies and the company decommissioning the former Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

The nuclear power plant operated in southeastern Vermont from 1972 until December 29, 2014.

In January 2019 it was sold to NorthStar Group, a company that decommissions closed nuclear facilities. NorthStar officials regularly provide the Citizens Advisory Panel with updates on the status of the site cleanup and reactor removal progress.

NorthStar Vermont Yankee Senior Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation Manager Corey Daniels displayed a series of pictures to illustrate what he called significant progress in deconstructing the reactor building.

“There is the bottom dome of the reactor vessel being loaded into custom boxes in segments and then the final segments being loaded up as well for shipment," described Daniels. "It’s a pretty big deal to finish all that work with pulling out the reactor vessel and all five of its rings and the bottom dome and cut them up and prep them and ship them off site. This is the bio-shield area or the area that contained the reactor vessel itself. Now that it’s empty looking up from the bottom area of containment, not a sight very many people ever saw.”

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation conducts non-radiological and groundwater monitoring of the site. Waste Management and Protection Division Environmental Program Manager Patricia Coppolino noted that there has been quarterly monitoring of groundwater at the site for three years and they are currently reviewing the 2021-22 annual report.

“Some of that indicates that there are still some small impacts and local exceedances of volatile organic compounds – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbonsand PFAS. These are not new findings. We already knew that they were there but they are still above standards," reported Coppolino. "We’ve also been asked to allow for suspending monitoring, groundwater monitoring, during the demolition and soil remediation. And then NorthStar is going to be applying for emissions permits to run onsite generators for multiple years.”

Advisory Panel citizen appointee Lissa Weinmann noted that NorthStar is planning to wrap up decommissioning before the 2030 target date and asked Corey Daniels how they will determine completion.

“How much longer do you think the active part of decommissioning will continue and when," continues Weinmann, "is decommissioning actually complete?”

“I do believe we’ll best the 2030 by at least a couple years," asserts Corey Daniels. "Decommissioning is really not complete until the spent fuel leaves the site and the independent spent fuel storage installation is finally decommissioned and an additional final expended survey license determination plan activity is conducted on that. I think the real and more important piece is we’re on track to do it. We’re on budget.”

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