Vt. Yankee says it’s gaining on infiltrating water

  • An Entergy Nuclear spokesman said the water intrusion into the turbine building had dropped from a high of between 3,000 to 2,500 gallons a day in January to 700 gallons a day in August. FILE PHOTO

Rutland Herald
Published: 8/25/2016 10:47:17 PM

VERNON, Vt. — An Entergy Nuclear spokesman said the company is making progress on controlling the infiltration of unwanted groundwater into the Vermont Yankee turbine building, a radioactive disposal problem that so far has cost the company $1.2 million.

Entergy Nuclear spokesman Martin Cohn said the water intrusion into the turbine building had dropped from a high of between 3,000 to 2,500 gallons a day in January to 700 gallons a day in August.

Cohn said the ongoing drought, which has been labeled moderate-to-severe in Vernon by the U.S. Weather Service, had likely also contributed to the drop in groundwater levels.

He said the drop had allowed the company to seal cracks in the building’s foundation, as well as a sump-pump drain, which he said was contributing to the infiltration. “We’ve done a lot of sealing,” he said.

As a result, he said, Entergy’s request earlier this summer to get state approval to discharge the slightly radioactive water from the turbine building into the Connecticut River had been effectively put on hold. The water became contaminated with radioactivity by contact with the turbine building, but the chemical properties of the water have not been disclosed by either Entergy or the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC.

“We continue to ship water. We’ve got our inventory down. We’re shipping two more shipments this week, and we’ll probably only do one shipment every week thereafter,” Cohn said.

“As we’ve said all along, we had a plan to deal with water management and it appears that plan is working,” he said.

“I’m confident that we’ve made the necessary changes to keep our water intrusion at a manageable level,” Cohn said.

Cohn said that Entergy was paying $4 a gallon for every gallon to be shipped and treated, and he said “rough” numbers put the cost so far at $1.2 million, with 300,000 gallons being shipped from the Vernon plant.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said a decommissioning inspector was going to Vermont Yankee next week and part of his review would include updates on Yankee’s intrusion groundwater management activities.

“Whether recent dry weather conditions have played a role in the reduction in flow, it would be conjecture on our part at this point to draw any conclusions,” he said, noting the NRC didn’t have enough information on the issue.

He said the NRC had asked for additional information from Entergy about its request to ship 200,000 gallons of water containing low levels of radioactivity from Vermont to U.S. Ecology Inc., a treatment and disposal facility in Grand View, Idaho.

He said the NRC could take up to a year to review Entergy’s request, which is considered an amendment to its federal license. The water to be shipped includes emergency coolant water stored in the torus, as well as storage tanks and other process water.


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