Public Affairs Officer
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.
In 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.