State OKs Vt. Yankee transfer

  • FILE PHOTO  FILE PHOTO

Staff Reporter
Published: 12/10/2018 7:27:48 AM

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – The State of Vermont’s approval of Vermont Yankee’s transfer came nearly two months after federal regulators OK’d NorthStar Group Services subsidiaries taking over the shuttered Vernon reactors’s decommissioning from Entergy, delaying the sale that had been planned for completion by year’s end.

The state Vermont Public Utility Commission approved the proposed sale of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee and issued an amended Certificate of Public Good authorizing NorthStar to own, possess the licenses for, and decommission the plant, which ceased operation at the end of 2014 after 42 years of operation.

State approval included full endorsement of a memorandum of understanding between the two companies with the state Department of Public Service, Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Public Health and Attorney General, along with the Vernon Planning Commission, the New England Coalition and Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi and the Elnu Abenaki Tribe.

Approval came only a couple of hours before a meeting of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, whose members had not yet seen its terms and plan to review the state commission’s final reporting and enforcement requirements at its next meeting on Jan. 24.

Entergy spokesman Joseph Lynch told the panel Entergy and NorthStar plan to complete the sale in early January.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the transfer of Vermont Yankee’s operating licenses to NorthStar on Oct. 12. NorthStar has said it plans to begin decommissioning the Vernon plant site by 2021, and possibly as early as next year, and have it completed by 2030 — decades ahead of what Entergy had proposed.

With “no substantial changes” to the multi-party settlement agreed to by all parties with the exception of the Conservation Law Foundation, New England Coalition’s technical adviser Raymond Shadis said, “We are particularly interested in encouraging NorthStar to abide by the environmental conditions,” it has agreed to, including a ban on averaging the radiation dose on buried large-bore piping and tank interior walls and added fill, no “rubblization” of any concrete containing detectable reactor-derived radionuclides as well as performing near off-site radiation surveys in sensitive areas.

NorthStar has also agreed to try to meet the same stringent residual radiation standard achieved at the other three decommissioned “Yankee” nuclear plants, Shadis said.

Lynch said Thursday that the number of employees at the site was reduced from 24 to 13 as of Nov. 29, and that eight of those remaining – exclusive of security personnel – had agreed to stay on to work for NorthStar.

Lynch also reported that workers are bringing a discontinued rail spur into the Vernon site, which will eventually be used to remove most of the demolition debris from the site.

Entergy requested the license transfer — including Vermont Yankee’s 58 dry casks of stored spent fuel — in February, seeking a response in time for a sale by the end of the year.

Entergy and NorthStar have agreed to deposit $30 million into an escrow account, with Entergy providing $20 million and NorthStar providing $10 million, to be available for radiological decommissioning and site restoration, as needed. In addition, after the first $100 million has been withdrawn from the trust fund, NorthStar will place 10 percent of the amounts invoiced, up to $25 million, into the escrow fund.

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