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NRC Finishes Review of Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Planning Report

Neil Sheehan
Public Affairs Officer
Region I

More of a marathon than a sprint, the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant can in some cases take decades. But central to the successful completion of that process is careful planning and vigilant oversight.

vyIn December of 2014, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant embarked on that phase of its life after being permanently shut down. As required by the NRC, Entergy, the plant’s owner, submitted a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report, or PSDAR, on Dec. 19, 2014.

What exactly is a PSDAR? It is a report designed to provide the NRC and public with a general overview of the company’s proposed decommissioning activities. The report includes estimated costs for decommissioning and an affirmation that the decommissioning can be completed consistent with the site’s environmental statement.

Since the PSDAR only provides information and is not a federal action, it does not require NRC approval. However, the agency does review such submittals to confirm they meet regulatory requirements.

Besides performing an evaluation of the nuts-and-bolts aspects of the decommissioning plans, the NRC staff also reviewed public comments regarding the report. Along those lines, the agency held a public meeting on Feb. 19, 2015, in Brattleboro, Vt., for the purpose of receiving comments. Those remarks and others submitted separately in writing were all considered as the report was being prepared.

The NRC staff has now completed its review of the report and has determined the planned decommissioning activities, schedules and other information described in it are consistent with the agency’s requirements in this area. A copy of the NRC’s letter to Entergy regarding the PSDAR review results will be made available in the agency’s electronic documents system, ADAMS.

Also on the topic of Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning, as of Feb. 1, 2016, the responsibility for Vermont Yankee has been transferred within the NRC from the office responsible for operating reactors to the office responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants.

Going forward, the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards’ Division of Decommissioning, Uranium Recovery and Waste Programs will oversee licensing activities involving Vermont Yankee.

The NRC will continue to perform inspections at Vermont Yankee, with the intention of being on-site anytime a major activity is taking place.

 

12 responses to “NRC Finishes Review of Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Planning Report

  1. CaptD February 4, 2016 at 11:21 am

    I hope that they are not going to get to use inferior Waste casks like SCE is trying to do at San Onofre.

    It is past time for the NRC to tighten up its requirements for Waste storage, so that future generations don’t get stuck having to pay for re-handling ☢ waste so that Utilities can profit today.

    • Engineer-Poet February 5, 2016 at 5:42 am

      “Inferior” (dry spent fuel storage) casks?  Inferior how?  What’s the docket number of the application for this?  Let’s see if this exists anywhere except in your imagination.

  2. John J. Coupal, Ph.D. February 4, 2016 at 10:28 am

    With nations around the world – including China – ramping up the building of power nuclear reactors, what do the people in those countries know that the United States – and its citizens – evidently do not?

    • Engineer-Poet February 5, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      China doesn’t have its fossil-fuel companies hijacking the Chinese national interest and blocking nuclear power.  The United States does.

  3. Half-TruthSlayer February 4, 2016 at 9:43 am

    It is so interesting that the NRC concludes that the “info” Entergy provided meets requirements when the NRC still has not issued its decommissioning rule. Now Vermont Yankee joins a host of nuke plants that have entered decommissioning without the NRC having a rule in place. Makes you wonder why continue the rule-making process, what a waste?!

    Speaking of waste, it is like what to do with all the high level radioactive spent fuel waste that is piling up at over 93 different nuclear sites in the US, many near large population centers. No other energy industry is allowed to operate without provisions for the safe handling & permanent disposal of all dangerous byproducts.

    The NRC is not a public safety watchdog they are a nuke industry lapdog!

    • Gmax137 February 6, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      ” No other energy industry is allowed to operate without provisions for the safe handling & permanent disposal of all dangerous byproducts…”. You’re joking, right? The coal & gas burners spew their waste directly into the atmosphere, killing thousands of people every year.

      • Half-TruthSlayer February 8, 2016 at 9:12 am

        Nice try Gmax. Of course burners emit pollutants into the air, but so do nuke plants. Difference is you cannot see all the deadly radioactive stuff that is constantly dumped on the public by nukes & not just under accident or upset conditions but 24/7. But the collected fly & bottom ash from coal-burners is properly handled and disposed of and does not pile up all over the place. Not so with nuke waste. The much more dangerous high level radioactive waste sits in overloaded open spent fuel pools in over 90 locations across our country. This of course makes all these pools tempting terrorist targets.

      • Engineer-Poet February 9, 2016 at 5:29 am

        Now Vermont Yankee joins a host of nuke plants that have entered decommissioning without the NRC having a rule in place.

        A number of nuke plants have FINISHED decommissioning, some of them to greenfield status.  It makes you wonder why the NRC needs new rules.

        Of course burners emit pollutants into the air, but so do nuke plants.

        You can’t get away with such blatant falsehoods here.  Nuke plants are restricted to radioactive emissions levels far below the tramp uranium and decay products that come out the stacks of coal plants.  Natural gas from the Marcellus is chock-full of radon.

        Difference is you cannot see all the deadly radioactive stuff that is constantly dumped on the public by nukes

        If it existed you could measure it with a dosimeter.  It doesn’t.  Nuclear plants have radiation monitors at the plant fence.  It’s so ironic that you obsess over every trivial event at a nuclear plant, while ignoring the extensive monitoring of every detail that allows such events to be detected and reported in the first place.

        But the collected fly & bottom ash from coal-burners is properly handled and disposed of and does not pile up all over the place.

        Not piling up all over the place?  You wish.  You can’t get away with ignoring the large, multiple seeps from and major failures of coal-ash dumps in North Carolina and Tennessee, to name just two.  Arsenic, lead, mercury… they never decay.  They are poisonous forever.

        I’d just LOVE to see a requirement that the emissions from coal and natural gas plants be captured and sealed up in stainless steel just like spent nuclear fuel.  The USA would have to dump all the gas backups for your “renewables” along with most of the “renewables” themselves.  We would quickly have a grid with nuclear, hydro, a bit of geothermal and not much else.  Or maybe not geothermal; it brings up a lot of radium which deposits as scale in pipes, so-called NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material).

        The much more dangerous high level radioactive waste sits in overloaded open spent fuel pools

        They can’t be loaded any more than the NRC allows, and the NRC loading is calculated to be safe.

        This of course makes all these pools tempting terrorist targets.

        Sealed in metal pins, inside an alignment grid, under ten meters of water which requires a (rather slow) crane to pull them out of, inside a closed building, on a site defended by armed guards, behind fences… yes, those targets are SO much more attractive compared to nightclubs and sports events.  If you’re a complete fool.  Which is why no terrorist plot against one has ever been discovered.

        The “tempting terrorist target” canard has been rattling around the anti-nuke echo chamber for years.  There’s not a single shred of evidence to support it, but that doesn’t stop you from repeating it ad nauseam.

    • Moderator February 8, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      Thank you for your comments

      You are correct that the NRC has begun work on new regulations in the area of decommissioning. The agency announced the start of that process in November. Because of the many steps involved with developing new federal regulations, involving the receipt and consideration of public comments, the Commission isn’t expected to complete the development of those new requirements until sometime in 2019. In light of the increase in the number of decommissioning plants, the NRC has determined the regulation changes are well worth the investment of effort at this time. That said, there are already in place clearly articulated requirements as to how decommissioning activities should proceed. One of those steps is the review of a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) for each permanently shutdown nuclear power plant, the step the NRC staff has now finished.

      As for the spent nuclear fuel at each decommissioned plant, the NRC’s focus is on ensuring that the storage of the materials continues to be safely carried out, whether the fuel is in the spent fuel pool or dry cask storage. Each owner of a decommissioned plant must also develop a long-term plan for the management of its spent fuel. Vermont Yankee’s owner has done that and the NRC staff has reviewed the plan and found it to be acceptable.

      Neil Sheehan

  4. Engineer-Poet February 4, 2016 at 9:38 am

    The decommissioning of Vermont Yankee is a crime against humanity.  Shutting down the reactor led directly to the replacement of its output, not by “renewables”, but by natural gas.  This comes at the cost of millions of tons of CO2 emissions per year.

    The social cost of CO2 emissions has been estimated at $220/ton.  If the USA’s nuclear plants were compensated even half of this for their avoided emissions, not one would be at risk of shutting down due to poor market conditions.

  5. Nikohl Vandel February 4, 2016 at 9:02 am

    One by one, thanks to so many advancements , these old plants need to shut down sooner rather than later. Let’s get Diablo Canyon shut down next, we really don’t need another Fukushima! #ClimateAction

    • Half-TruthSlayer February 5, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      So true. I am tempted to respond in kind to another comment made by an engineer who thinks he is a poet. But I won’t. Suffice it to say that some comments make neither rhyme nor reason!

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