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NRC starts review process for proposed Vt. Yankee sale

  • FILE - In this June 19, 2013 file photo, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station sits along the banks of the Connecticut River in Vernon, Vt. Its owner, Entergy Corp., said it is closing the plant for economic reasons, and is expected to be disconnect from the regional power grid. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)



Rutland Herald
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is starting its review process into the proposed sale of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to the NorthStar dismantlement specialists with a public meeting later this month.

The public will be able to attend both in person and on the phone.

The meeting, slated for Jan. 24 at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Md., will be open to the public to observe the meeting between Entergy Nuclear, NorthStar and NRC staff members, said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the NRC.

The move by Entergy Nuclear to sell the closed Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is part of an apparent overall strategy by Entergy to divest itself of its merchant or unregulated nuclear fleet in the Northeast. On Monday, Entergy and the state of New York announced the latest move: the closure of Indian Point nuclear plant, north of New York City.

Sheehan said people will have an opportunity to communicate with the NRC staff, after the business portion of the meeting but before the meeting is adjourned. He said it was too soon to say how many opportunities there would be in the future for the public to comment on the sale.

He said the meeting was being held even before Entergy and NorthStar submit plans for transferal of the Yankee license, although Sheehan said NRC staff expected those documents to be submitted next month.

“This gives us a chance to better understand what they’re proposing and to give them a chance to better anticipate our questions,” he said.

Entergy Nuclear submitted its request to sell Vermont Yankee to NorthStar to the Vermont Public Service Board last month. No hearings have been scheduled for that.

Sheehan said the NRC had never had a similar case, in which a plant on the verge of decommissioning was being sold outright. “I cannot recall a similar situation,” Sheehan said.

He said the NRC had reviewed and approved the transfer of the Zion nuclear plant in Illinois to a decommissioning company, but with the plan that it would be transferred back to the original owner, Exelon, once decommissioning was completed.

He said the Vermont Yankee proposal was different than the Zion plant sale and re-sale.

Sheehan said that so far the state of Vermont had not filed anything with the NRC regarding a position on the sale. Gov. Phil Scott late last week appointed June Tierney, an attorney for the Public Service Board, to be his commissioner of the Department of Public Service. Tierney couldn’t be reached late Monday.

People interested in the meeting can call 800-988-9759, with pass code 67208#. The docket number for the NorthStar purchase is 05000271. The NRC said presentation materials will be made available on the NRC’s public agency-wide documents access and management system, or ADAMS, as well as through the NRC’s public meeting website www.nrc.gov/pmns/mtg, when available.