Vermont Yankee

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.

Voters in Vernon Tuesday passed a slightly pared-down version of the $4.4 million school budget they rejected at town meeting in March. Vernon School Board Chairman Mike Hebert said the board shaved about $50,000 from the original budget.

"We did say to people that we were going to do as much as we could without changing our offerings in the school and what we need to do to maintain our quality level education," Hebert said.

A deal is being finalized that would resolve financial issues related to the cleanup of the closed Vermont Yankee  nuclear plant.
Jason R. Henske / AP

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant experienced a small leak of radioactive steam last week. But state and Yankee officials say the leak was contained and the public was not in danger.

Yankee spokesman Rob Williams said the leak was discovered by a worker doing maintenance.

"It was work on a pipe and during that process there was a malfunction of a filter, and that has since been corrected. It was corrected immediately," Williams said. "There was this air sampling monitoring during that the time, and it confirmed that the radioactivity was extremely low."

A cold winter and a revenue-sharing agreement with the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant will mean a big windfall for many Vermont electric customers.

When the Entergy Corporation bought the plant in 2002 from Vermont utilities, the company agreed to share revenues from its sales above a certain wholesale electric price.

That price was exceeded this winter as wholesale power costs skyrocketed in New England. And that means Entergy will pay Green Mountain Power as much as $17.8 million.

The owners of Vermont Yankee say the plant can’t operate under the state’s proposed conditions for releasing heated water into the Connecticut River. A leading environmentalist counters that the plant’s thermal discharge harms the river’s migrating fish.

Entergy Vermont Yankee uses the river to cool its reactor. It’s been releasing heated water into the Connecticut under an expired permit for at least eight years. But a new permit is expected to include more stringent standards on how much heat the plant can add to the river.

VPR/Susan Keese

More than 50 experts and officials met in Putney Wednesday to begin to plan a national conference for regions and states facing nuclear plant closings.

The country will see a landslide of nuclear plant closings in the next few decades, organizer Jeff Lewis told the group. He said the economic and social impacts on those regions will be severe. But Lewis says there isn’t much information on how host communities and states can protect their interests when nuclear power plants stop operating.

VPR

The Public Service Board has given the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant the ‘ok’ to operate through the end of 2014, at which point Entergy, the plant's owners, says it will shut down Vermont Yankee.  

State regulators have granted Entergy Vermont Yankee a permit to operate through December 2014, when the nuclear plant will close permanently.

Friday's decision includes the approval of a Memorandum of Understanding between the state and Entergy Vermont Yankee. It also settles years of litigation between  the state and the plant's owners. But not everyone thinks the ruling serves the region’s best interests.

State utility regulators have allowed Entergy Vermont Yankee to operate the state’s only nuclear plant through the end of the year.

The Vermont Public Service Board on Friday also approved an agreement between the state and Entergy that requires the company to pay $10 million for economic development in Windham County and to set up a $25 million fund to restore the Vernon site after decommissioning.

AP File Photo

Vermont utility regulators have until March 31 to decide whether to approve a tentative agreement between Entergy Vermont Yankee and the Shumlin Administration.

The pact calls for Entergy to pay $10 million to help with economic recovery after Vermont Yankee closes later this year. But opponents say the state would lose more than it gains if the deal goes forward.

Susan Keese / VPR

Vernon residents may be asked to rethink their unexpected Town Meeting vote to eliminate funding for the town’s police department.  A petition is circulating in town that calls for a special town meeting to reconsider the original $2.1 million dollar budget proposed by the town select board.

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