Since the November 2016 announcement that NorthStar intended to buy and decommission Vermont Yankee, Windham County community members have expressed understandable concern how this accelerated decommissioning will affect the community.
Many of these questions regard NorthStar’s capability to complete the project within budget and on schedule, the approval from the state and local community, and the status of Vermont Yankee’s spent fuel.
More than a year and a half later, Vermont Yankee and NorthStar await a decision from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Vermont Public Utilities Commission.
Early in 2017, NorthStar submitted a plan to the PUC and its intervenors, detailing how to complete decommissioning on budget. While this satisfied many interested parties, NorthStar later provided several million-dollar contingency assurances in the event the project exceeds its budget.
On March 2, 2018, seven organizations representing regional, state, environmental and Native American interests joined plant owner Entergy and purchaser NorthStar in a formal agreement supporting the sale, following months of in-depth, transparent project review and negotiations. This agreement was presented to the PUC, which will release its decision following the NRC’s announcement.
Earlier this month, Vermont Yankee successfully finished loading every ounce of spent fuel produced in the plant’s 42 active years into 55 steel-and-concrete dry casks. The project was completed safely, on budget and two years earlier than originally planned. The spent fuel is chemically inert and secured in hardened casks for monitoring and safety. Until the federal government removes the spent fuel, Vernon and Windham County have a secure, permanent, well-monitored and, above all, safe disposition for the spent fuel.
Vernon’s economic future rests on the approval and successful completion of NorthStar’s plan. As we in Windham County wait for state and federal regulators to issue their final decisions, we can be confident that the big questions have been answered in the affirmative.
137 Pine St.
(This writer is a former senior reactor operator at Vermont Yankee.)