The Vermont Yankee Announcement

Neil Sheehan
Public Affairs Officer, Region I

vyYesterday, Vermont Yankee became the fifth U.S. commercial nuclear power reactor since the beginning of 2013 to announce plans to permanently cease operations. Earlier closure declarations this year involved the Kewaunee nuclear power plant, in Wisconsin; the two-unit San Onofre facility, in California; and Crystal River, in Florida.

Of those plants, Vermont Yankee’s decision has the most in common with Kewaunee, in that a primary determining factor, according to its operator, was changes in the electricity marketplace — particularly an abundance of low-cost natural gas — that impacted the plant’s economic competitiveness.

Given the plant’s satisfactory safety performance, it is currently under the normal level of oversight from the NRC.

For residents of Vermont and neighboring states, one of the first questions that may come to mind is what comes next?

Going forward, the NRC will continue its rigorous oversight of the Vernon, Vt., plant through the remainder of its operation and then into and through the decommissioning process. Once the final operational cycle concludes for the single-unit boiling water reactor, the facility’s owner, Entergy, would have to formally notify the NRC of the permanent cessation of power production within 30 days. Subsequently, Entergy would have to formally let us know once the fuel had been removed from the reactor.

vermontThere are numerous steps that would then follow in the decommissioning review process, including holding a public meeting near the plant to discuss the company’s plans. The company will outline its plans in a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR), which is to be submitted within two years after the certification of permanent closure. The PSDAR would provide a description of the planned decommissioning activities, a schedule for accomplishing them, and an estimate of the expected costs.

After receiving a PSDAR, the NRC publishes a notice of receipt in the Federal Register, and makes the report available for public review and comment.

More information about the decommissioning process is available in an NRC fact sheet and on the agency’s web site.

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

20 thoughts on “The Vermont Yankee Announcement”

  1. It’s complicated but it can be a future without nuclear power plants

  2. I’m very split on nuclear power. My business consumes a lot of power so I understand the need for more plants but the waste really bothers me.

  3. In terms of the decommissioning process for Vermont Yankee, what would come next would be the formal notification from Entergy later this year that the reactor has permanently ceased operations. That will be followed by a notification that all nuclear fuel has been removed from the reactor. Those notifications will kick into gear the formal start of the NRC’s decommissioning review process for the plant. The focus for the NRC until then will be the safe operation of the plant.

    Neil Sheehan

  4. For residents of Vermont and neighboring states, one of the first questions that may come to mind is what comes next?

  5. James you hit the nail on e head. Well the Vermonters who voted for Shumlin. WILL GET WHAT THEY DESERVE.

    Moderator Note: Some verbiage removed per the blog comment guidelines

  6. My concern is with the fuel rods, spent or otherwise. Will they be stored on site? wet storage or dry casks just sitting around the facility instead of being shipped to Yucca storage! Kewaunee will have them just sitting next to 20% of the worlds fresh water, Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes, What a target for terroists!

  7. NRC regulations on decommissioning are straightforward and set clear objectives that a licensee must meet. As in most of our regulations, we set performance goals and allow a licensee some flexibility in how to achieve those goals. While a plant operator sets out its own decommissioning plan, the NRC must approve it after reviewing it to determine whether it meets our requirements.

    Neil Sheehan

  8. All of the so-called “renewable” energy sources, especially wind and solar, are not “profitable” without huge subsidies. Those are the only industries that have strong-armed legislators into putting laws on the books that require their product to be purchased by users, often at outrageously inflated prices relative to the going rate for other sources. Yet the “profitability” standard is only applied to nuclear, they’d better be profitable or their facilities get bulldozed and their employees thrown out on the street while the politicians and activsists cheer it on. Sounds to me like the game is rigged, a different set of rules is applied to one side and not the other.

  9. So, what’s going to happen to all those people you put out of work? They have lives, kids in school, families to support. Don’t care, I guess.

  10. Has the NRC ever considered having a “temporary decomissioning”? That is, shut down the reactor, place the fuel away, but not take the place apart. Do everything to “mothball” the facility for when it might be needed again? This “temporary decomission license” could maybe be renewed every 2-3 years and converted to a “full” license if the economy turns better or the nation runs out of natural gas (I know that could happen). I think it is a waste that a facility that nothing is wrong with at all is demolished just because natural gas prices are low right now. If we run out of gas, wouldn’t the electric supply be less reliable?

  11. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a “mothballing” regulation that would a company to suspend it’s operating license and defuel the reactor for a period of time with reduced regulation until such time that it would be profitable to resume operations.

  12. “The company” determines it’s decommissioning plan?

    Seems like this is the perfect time for the government to DICTATE what the company HAS to do.

  13. Regardless of natural gas pricing, electricity pricing has NOT come down at all, so it is very curious that natty is being used as the scapegoat.

  14. Kudos to Meredith Angwin and Howard Shaffer for waging a good and noble fight at VY for Earth and sanity. What is to say but that Climate Change and pollution and Hiroshima guilt and fear won out? That’s the backbone and result of this action. Shame on the media for never giving nuclear power an even break in fact and perspective and education and rebuttal. What is there to be jubilant over when Vermont’s pristine historic scenic vistas are about to be razed and despoiled wholesale and the earth’s climate pushed a little bit more to peril all for the name of assuaging unfounded fear? Were governments SERIOUS about climate change they’d husband every nuclear plant around the world to keep running regardless — yes, regardless the cost. Wouldn’t climate change cost a hell-of-a-lot more? Thought we were talking human survival here. To see these nuclear plants pass on without even assistance to salvage them suggests that apparently climate change isn’t the crisis we’ve all been led to believe.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

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