Vermont Yankee

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.

Susan Keese / VPR

Entergy Vermont Yankee says it's looking forward to a new era of cooperation as the plant the plant winds down operations this year. The comments came as the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel held its first meeting last Thursday at Brattleboro Union High School.

State officials have named six members to a new panel that will oversee the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

The 19-member panel was created to help assure transparency, communication and citizen involvement as Vermont Yankee is dismantled. The nuclear plant is scheduled to stop operating in December.

Toby Talbot / AP/file

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ruled that spent nuclear fuel can be safely stored indefinitely at decommissioned nuclear power plants.

The rule stems from a 2012 appeals court ruling ordering the NRC to consider the chance that a long-promised, permanent nuclear waste repository might never be built. The court also ordered the agency to do further analysis of the risks of spent fuel pool leaks and fires.

Toby Talbot / AP

The owners of Vermont Yankee are asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for permission to cut the number of personnel it assigns to some emergency operations. If approved, the staff changes would take effect when Yankee stops operating later this year. The Shumlin Administration is still evaluating the proposal.

Susan Keese / VPR

It’s been almost a year since the announcement that Entergy Vermont Yankee would close at the end of 2014. At the time of the announcement, the plant employed 632 people, at salaries well above the norm for southern Vermont.

Pages