The owner of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant has withdrawn its request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license amendment that would have allowed the company to stop notifying officials of withdrawals from the Vermont Yankee decommissioning trust fund.
Entergy’s motion means that the company must continue to provide notice to the NRC and the state of Vermont 30 days before it withdraws any money from the decommissioning fund.
Vermont Assistant Attorney General Environmental Protection Division Kyle Landis-Marinello says the state is pleased the company decided to abandon efforts to stop notification. “There’s a precedent that has happened at the NRC, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where they have allowed a number of companies to get out of giving these 30 day notices before making withdrawals. And so we thought it was important, particularly with this fund and some of the other issues we’ve raised around this fund, that we get that notice and that that continue as long as the site has not been decommissioned.”
Entergy Vermont Yankee Spokesman Marty Cohn explains that the state had challenged the company’s License Amendment Request to stop notifications that Entergy had filed before the NRC. “Entergy does not concede any merit to the state of Vermont’s assertions. However after we weighed the cost of pursuing approval of the License Amendment Request through litigation against the modest benefit of alleviating the administrative burden of continuing to provide the notifications we have decided to withdraw the License Amendment Request.”
Cohn calls the pre-notification requirement an administrative burden. “And it’s one that is not required by any other decommissioned site. We have complied, and continue to comply, with the advanced notification requirement. And we do that by mailing a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that simply states the maximum amount of funds we intend to withdraw from the fund for decommissioning activities for the period specified in the letter that we send. So far we have submitted nine pre-withdrawal notifications to the NRC of which the NRC has not provided written objection to any planned disbursement.”
Vermont Department of Public Service Commissioner Christopher Recchia says if the owners of Vermont Yankee had not withdrawn their request, it could have eliminated the notification requirement. “And so we would never know when funds were being withdrawn from the decommissioning trust fund or what they were for. Even with this ruling we still don’t know what it’s for yet but at least we’ll keep the 30 day notice in place so that we have an opportunity to see that Entergy intends to do the withdrawal. My hope is that we will also get a ruling from the Atomic Safety Licensing Board that provides more detail on those withdrawals so we can tell whether they are legitimate decommissioning trust fund expenses or not.”
Commissioner Recchia believes the state has a right to know when Entergy uses decommissioning funds. “These were entirely ratepayer generated funds for use for decommissioning. Our concern is that Entergy may be making use of those funds for other things that they have applied for exemptions for such as spent fuel management, taxes, emergency planning. We are asking the board to impose conditions that require more detail on the 30 day notice. Right now what Entergy sends is a notice of the maximum expenditure just in a dollar amount. There’s no explanation of what it’s for. So we would like there to be more detail so that we can, and the NRC can, do that assessment as to whether the funds are being appropriately allocated to decommissioning.”
Vermont’s filing to place conditions on Entergy’s request to amend the license is due next month. Vermont Yankee was shut down late last year.
Entergy Vermont Yankee decommissioning website: vydecommissioning.com