Webinar to explain nuclear power plant decommissioning

  • Demolition began on the east cooling towers at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, in Vernon, Vt., on July 11. The plant was shut down on Dec. 29, 2014. AP Photo

  • A worker walks past the main transformer, no longer in service, at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vt., earlier this year. AP Photo

  • The containment building and the turbine building of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, Vt. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/6/2019 5:20:02 PM

Vermont Yankee’s east side cooling towers have come down and work has begun on disassembling the nuclear power plant, so the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is holding a webinar for anyone interested in the process and next steps.

The webinar will be held in conjunction with a series of 11 public meetings the NRC will hold over the next several months throughout the country. The webinar for the Vernon, Vt., plant will be held Thursday at 1 p.m.

Participants will view slides prepared by commission staff and will be able to ask questions, both verbally and in writing, via a webpage set up to host the session.

Online registration is required to participate at bit.ly/2M2bvYn.

Under Section 108 of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, which became law on Jan. 14, the NRC is required to prepare a report for Congress on the best practices of community advisory boards in communities near and around nuclear power plants being decommissioned.

The removal of the cooling towers was ahead of what NorthStar Nuclear Decommissioning Co. LLC, which owns the property, had originally planned. The company had said it would begin demolition in early 2020, with decommissioning being finished before 2030.

Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC, which is overseeing the project, said the cooling towers at Vermont Yankee were not the kind typically associated with nuclear power plants — very tall, parabolic-shaped towers. Instead, he said, they were mechanical draft towers.

“They were only used when the temperature levels in the Connecticut River reached a specific warming point,” Sheehan said.

Meanwhile, NorthStar is making steady progress on the segmentation of the reactor vessel housed in the reactor building, NorthStar’s CEO Scott State said.

“This task is a major next step down our critical path over the coming 18 months,” he said.

NorthStar has hired Orano, a French company, to cut up the reactor’s internals, and that should take about 18 months, the company estimates.

Sheehan said since NorthStar took over, it has been proceeding safely and in accordance with NRC regulations.

Vermont Yankee shut down at the end of 2014, and the NRC has overseen the shutdown and decommissioning. Sheehan said a half-billion dollar trust fund, which NRC also oversees, will be used for all of the work that needs to be done.

For more information, visit: www.nrc.gov.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.


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