Vermont Yankee

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.

Toby Talbot / AP

Applications are now being accepted for the first round of funds provided by Entergy Vermont Yankee for economic development in Windham County. In a settlement with the state, Entergy agreed to pay $10 million over five years to help the region recover from the plant’s closing later this year.

AP File Photo

The state of Vermont has issued a draft pollution permit for Vermont Yankee that imposes new limits on how much the nuclear plant can heat the Connecticut River.

Yankee uses the river for cooling water. Environmentalists for years have argued that the heated discharge harms fish and other aquatic life.

Plant owner Entergy plans to shut down the reactor by the end of the year. But if the permit is finalized over the next several months, the lower limits would apply to Yankee’s operation this fall.

Susan Keese / VPR

Protestors interrupted a public meeting with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Brattleboro Wednesday night. Anti-nuclear activists brought the session to a temporary halt by reading a letter from Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey criticizing a recent NRC decision.  

“Quote, spent nuclear fuel pools are a disaster waiting to happen, unquote, said Senator Markey,” the group read in unison.

The federal agency voted this week not to require plants to speed up the removal of spent fuel from spent fuel pools into safer dry cask storage.

State officials were in Brattleboro this week to discuss how to spend more than $2.5 million earmarked for clean energy projects in Windham County.

The money is part of a final $5.3 million payment by Entergy Vermont Yankee to the state’s Clean Energy Development Fund. Entergy has funded the state program since it began in 2005. Those payments will stop when the plant closes at the end of December.

Entergy Vermont Yankee has begun the process to gain regulatory approval to move spent fuel from a pool inside the reactor building to another area on the property.

Entergy wants to store the highly radioactive waste in steel and concrete casks on the plant grounds. But first it must construct a large, flat concrete pad to accommodate the new waste facility.

The company filed notice this week with the Town of Vernon and the Windham Regional Commission of its plans for the concrete pad. It plans to file a formal request with the state Public Service Board on June 30.

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