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NRC allows spending $20M on Vt. Yankee spent fuel 

  • The containment building and the turbine building of the now decommissioned Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, Vt.. File photo


Recorder Staff
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

VERNON, Vt. — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted an exemption for the prospective buyer of the shut-down Vermont Yankee plant to allow use of up to $20 million from the plant’s decommissioning trust fund for spent fuel management.

The exemption, which appeared in Wednesday’s Federal Register, was noted in the NRC’s approval last Friday of a transfer of the plant’s license for Vermont Yankee from Entergy to Northstar Group Services. Northstar plans to buy the plant by the end of this year to expedite decommissioning of the plant, which shut down in December 2014.

NorthStar Vermont Yankee, has said it plans to begin decommissioning the site by 2021, and possibly as early as next year, and have it completed by 2030, or as early as 2026 — decades ahead of the original proposed decommissioning schedule Entergy had proposed.

The NRC granted Entergy an exemption in June 2015 for such a use of decommissioning trust funds for long-term storage of highly radioactive spent fuel rods prior to dismantlement of the plant.

NorthStar noted in its application for Friday’s exemption of trust fund rules, “A new exemption is required to support the proposed license transfer, because NorthStar plans to promptly commence decommissioning, which will reduce the projected earnings on … (Nuclear Decommissioning Trust) assets over time.”

The NRC ruled Friday, “Based on its evaluation as shown in its cash flow analysis, the NRC staff finds that the funds in the NDT are expected to be available and sufficient to cover the estimated costs for the radiological decommissioning of the facility … and spent fuel management ...”

The fund had a $527.9 million balance on Aug. 31. The companies have estimated decommissioning costs at $495 million, with an additional $3.5 million for the 58 dry casks of spent fuel that are now being stored on site.