Vermont Yankee

An illustration of a hand holding bills of money.
MHJ / iStock

The lawmakers who have taken an oath to represent their constituents are the only ones who vote on legislation, but they’re not the only ones making things happen in the Statehouse every spring – and they’re definitely not the highest-paid.

Vermont Yankee, pictured in 2013, in Vernon, Vt.
Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

Fifteen months ago, state officials heralded what they said was a landmark agreement with the owners of Vermont Yankee. But new legal battles are already brewing over the decommissioning of the Vernon nuclear reactor.

In an ongoing legal battle that could affect the timing, and price tag, of dismantling the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, state officials are asking federal regulators for more influence over the decommissioning process.

Many questions remain about the proposed sale of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. We're looking at all the latest developments on this "Vermont Edition."
Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

The Vermont Health Department says for the first time it has found the radioactive isotope Strontium-90 in ground water at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon.

What's the value of a dormant nuclear power plant?

That's the question facing folks in Vernon now that Vermont Yankee has shut down for good - after more than four decades in operation.

Vernon officials recently negotiated a new tax deal with plant owner Entergy, the first since the shut-down, and that's the subject of today's Friday Regional Report.

VPR's Mitch Wertlieb spoke about the deal with Brattleboro Reformer reporter Mike Faher.

Coffin: Yankee Luck

Jan 21, 2015

One sunny morning in 1972, I stood with the man who created Vermont’s only nuclear power plant in its giant, soaring, rounded concrete reactor. The Vermont Yankee nuclear power station was about to fire up. Albert A. Cree was my host, president of Vermont Yankee and Yankee’s parent company, the Central Vermont Public Service Corp. Vermont Yankee was his idea.

Entergy

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants comments on Entergy Nuclear’s plan for decommissioning Vermont Yankee. The agency will hold a public meeting on the plan in Brattleboro on Feb. 19.

NRCGov / Flickr

If Vermont Yankee, the 620-megawatt nuclear power plant, and all of the spent nuclear fuel being stored on its site were to just up and vanish tomorrow, what would be left is a pretty good spot for a power plant.

Now that the plant is now offline, many are asking, what’s next? While the site of the power plant has a lot going for it, building something else where a nuclear reactor once stood is no easy task.

Susan Keese / VPR

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant entered its final shutdown Monday at 1:03 p.m. The 620-megawatt reactor has been generating electricity for more than 42 years.

AP Photo/Entergy

On Dec. 29, 2014,  workers at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station cut off the flow of electricity to the grid. That marks the end of power generation for the plant after more than 42 years.

Vermont Yankee has been a big story during that time - politically, economically and environmentally.

VPR's Alex Keefe discussed the plant's history with Steve Terry, a reporter for the Rutland Herald in the 1960s, and later an executive at Green Mountain Power.

Jason R. Henske / AP/File

When it comes to the economy in this part of New England, ignore the state borders, says Linda Dunlavey. She’s head of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments based in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Susan Keese / VPR

Reactor operators at Vermont Yankee are gearing up for the nuclear plant’s final shutdown this coming Monday. Among other preparation, they’ve been training on a control room simulator at the company’s corporate offices in Brattleboro.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is slated to close on Monday, Dec. 29. Employment at the plant will drop in the middle of January from around 550 employees to just over 300.

The impact is expected to be substantial in Windham County and across state lines in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Audio from this story will be posted at approximately 11 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18.

Toby Talbot / AP/file

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has been operating since 1972. Now, we're less than two weeks away from the plant closing for good. And while it will stop producing energy, life will continue at the plant with the storage of spent fuel and the decommissioning of the plant.

Jason R. Henske / AP

In less than two weeks, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will enter its final shutdown. The Vernon reactor has generated electricity on the banks of the Connecticut River since 1972. It’s also generated public discord, litigation and mistrust. Officials on both sides hope that’s coming to an end, now that the plant is closing. But with decades of cleanup and decommissioning ahead, the saga of Vermont Yankee and the state is far from over.

Visitors to even the least restricted areas at Vermont Yankee must stop at the gatehouse and show their ID.

Susan Keese / VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin was in Brattleboro Friday to name the recipients of the first $2 million in economic development funds from Entergy Vermont Yankee. In a settlement with the state a year ago, Entergy pledged $10 million over five years to help Windham County bounce back after the plant closes later this month.

The owners of Vermont Yankee have avoided one battle with the state over the use of funds set aside for decommissioning the plant. The reactor is shutting down at the end of the month. At a teleconference Monday Entergy said it would not use the Decommissioning Trust Fund to pay for the transfer of radioactive fuel from the reactor into safer 'dry-cask storage' on the Vernon site. Entergy says the transfer will be funded through private credit instead.

Vermont’s newly formed Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel held its second meeting last month at the Vernon Elementary School.

The panel was created to encourage communication between Entergy Vermont Yankee, the state, and communities around the plant. The reactor is closing in December. It’s expected to take decades to dismantle.

Chris Recchia, the commissioner of the Public Service department, is the panel’s acting chairman. He says communication with Entergy has improved, but areas of disagreement remain.

Jason R. Henske / AP/File

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is questioning Entergy Vermont Yankee’s claims that the risk of accidents is negligible after the plant stops operating. 

Entergy Vermont Yankee applied to the NRC in March for permission to scale back emergency planning once its fuel is moved from the reactor core to the spent fuel pool. That includes eliminating or drastically reducing emergency planning zones in towns surrounding the facility.

AP File Photo

A Site Assessment Study released by Entergy Vermont Yankee Friday significantly raises the estimated cost of retiring the Vernon plant. The report also provides an early estimate of the timetable for decommissioning, which Entergy says could begin in about three decades.

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