Vt. board calls for quick nuke dismantlement
MONTPELIER, Vt. — A panel that advises Vermont state policy makers on activities at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant wants the plant to be dismantled promptly after it stops operating next year.
In a meeting Wednesday, the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel urged that state officials push for decommissioning the nuclear plant as quickly as possible.
But it stopped short of urging that a required state permit for the plant to operate until late next year be conditioned on an agreement by plant owner Entergy Corp. to do prompt decommissioning.
Entergy has said it wants to mothball the plant for decades, while its radioactive components cool and the fund set aside to dismantle it grows.
The board had considered a recommendation to push for a timely decommissioning process at its meeting last week, the first since Entergy Corp. announced it plans to shut down the Vernon reactor in late 2014 after its current fuel supply is exhausted. But with two members abstaining and one member absent, the panel as deadlocked at that time.
The push for a speedier decommissioning than Entergy’s preferred mothballing of the plant for 50 years came as member William Irwin, Vermont’s radiological health chief, disclosed that the 41-year-old plant’s owners have the option of leaving all of the old nuclear fuel in the spent fuel pool for 50 years rather than moving it into concrete and steel casks.
Yankee currently has about 900 highly radioactive assemblies in air-cooled dry casks, with nearly 3,000 assemblies in its spent fuel pool.
Bowing to concerns over safety, Gov. Peter Shumlin has said he wants the plant cleaned up more in the time frame of 10 years than the 60 years allowed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Entergy has said it prefers the delayed “safestore” method to reduce radiological exposure to its employees and to allow time for growth of its current $580 million decommissioning trust fund grow.
Panel members have said the exact cost of cleaning Vermont Yankee’s site won’t be known until Entergy completes several studies, which could take roughly two years.