Entergy submits Vermont Yankee decommissioning documents to NRC


An Entergy (NYSE:ETR) subsidiary has submitted a post-shutdown decommissioning activities report (PSDAR) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for decommissioning Vermont Yankee.

The study includes a decommissioning description, cost estimate, proposed schedule and management strategy for storing used nuclear fuel, Entergy Vermont Yankee said in a Dec. 19 statement.

Entergy expects Vermont Yankee to cease power generation on Dec. 29. It also expects decommissioning to cost $1.24bn in 2014 dollars.

In August 2013, Entergy announced that Vermont Yankee would not be refueled and would cease operations at the end of its current operating cycle. The company has also issued layoff notices to 165 employees who could be let go about Jan. 19, 2015.

The roughly 600-MW boiling water reactor has already started to “coast down” toward closure. The NRC daily reactor status report for Dec. 19 listed the plant at 76% generation.

In December 2013, several Vermont state agencies and Entergy negotiated a settlement agreement that, among other things, included commitments by Entergy that plant would cease operations by the end of 2014.

Vermont Yankee is targeting Dec. 29 to stop generating power. The plant began operating in 1972 and has reliably operated more than 600 days as a baseload plant during its final operating cycle.

Entergy has relied upon the plant heavily in New England. It had a capacity factor of 101.2% in 2012, according to GenerationHub data.

In October 2014, the company submitted a site assessment study to the state of Vermont. This report was a summary of historical environmental and radiological conditions of the site, explained what activities are expected to occur as the plant transitions from an operating to decommissioning site and discussed updated cost estimates for decommissioning of the site.

By agreement, the state of Vermont was given 60 days to review the study, which included a draft PSDAR, prior to today’s submittal of the final report. In accordance with the settlement agreement, Entergy Vermont Yankee considered comments on the draft received from state agencies for inclusion in the report.

Vermont Yankee plans to use SAFSTOR

Entergy has selected the SAFSTOR decommissioning option – one of three options approved by the NRC, and one chosen by several other retired U.S. nuclear plants. Under this option, the plant will be placed in a safe, stable condition until decommissioning work is completed.

The total decommissioning cost estimate of $1.24bn includes costs associated with terminating the NRC operating license ($817m), spent fuel management ($368m) and site restoration ($57m), Entergy said.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear decommissioning trust (NDT) continues to exceed NRC financial assurance requirements in the SAFSTOR scenario for license termination activities such as preparation for dormancy and for decontamination and dismantlement. The NDT contained approximately $665m as of Nov. 30.

Here are some other highlights from the recent filing:

•        Entergy Vermont Yankee has committed to seek NRC approval to commence major decommissioning activities within 120 days after it has made a reasonable determination that the funds in the nuclear decommissioning trust are adequate to complete decommissioning and remaining spent nuclear fuel management activities.

•        Consistent with a state of Vermont requirement, the company has applied for a certificate of public good to construct the second ISFSI pad, which is required to complete moving all the spent nuclear fuel currently stored in the spent fuel pool to dry cask storage. Entergy’s ability to transfer all spent fuel to dry storage by mid-2020 (as currently anticipated) is dependent on obtaining the certificate in a timely manner.

•        After all Vermont Yankee spent fuel is moved to dry storage, the fuel will remain on the ISFSI pad until the Department of Energy (DOE) removes it from the site. At that point, Vermont Yankee will be similarly situated to the other three decommissioned Yankee plants (Yankee Rowe in Rowe, Mass.; Maine Yankee in Wiscasset, Maine; and Connecticut Yankee in Haddam Neck, Conn.), which continue to store their spent fuel on spent fuel storage pads as they await progress at the federal level to remove the fuel from their sites.

A web site that contains additional information about the nuclear plant’s decommissioning plan can be found at www.vydecommissioning.com.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.