Vermont Yankee

The state of Vermont and the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant have signed a legal agreement that officials say will assure that the plant is decommissioned as promptly as possible.

Entergy has also agreed to provide money for economic development and restoration of the Windham County plant site.

The deal ends years of litigation between the state and Entergy Vermont Yankee

The deal allows Entergy to keep operating through the end of 2014, when the company plans to shut down the 42-year-old nuclear plant.

AP File Photo

For more than a week, Governor Peter Shumlin and top state officials have been in closed-door discussions with the owners of Vermont Yankee.

The talks focus on the details of dismantling the nuclear plant after it closes in December 2014.  So far, local voices have been excluded from the high-level talks.

The Windham Regional Commission, which represents the region’s interests of 27 southern Vermont towns, is one of several groups calling for a place at the table.

A New York federal appeals court says the legality of a tax on Vermont's only nuclear plant is best left up to a state court. But it shot down some of the plant operator's arguments against the tax anyway.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled Tuesday. The case stems from a tax affecting the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

The plant, which began operating in 1972, is run by the New Orleans-based Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc.

The company has argued that the electricity tax is unconstitutional and is not really a tax.

VPR/Susan Keese

An alliance that includes 27 towns in three southeastern Vermont counties has unveiled a plan for reversing the region’s economic decline.

The plan sets a goal of 1,800 new jobs by 2018 -- an addition of $460 million annually to the region’s economy.

That’s despite the expected loss of hundreds of the region’s highest paying jobs when Vermont Yankee closes next year.

Laura Sibilia of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation says the plan reflects the ideas of many individuals and groups.

Entergy announced a three-minute test of their 37 emergency sirens within a 10-mile radius of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Residents can expect the three-minute siren blast Saturday, Nov. 2 at 12 noon.

The tests, mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will affect the following towns:

In Vermont:

  • Brattleboro
  • Dummerston
  • Guilford
  • Vernon

In New Hampshire:

  • Chesterfield
  • Hinsdale
  • Richmond
  • Swanzey
  • Winchester

In Massachusetts:

VPR/Susan Keese

Three Windham County development organizations are asking for $2.3 million in state aid to deal with the impact of Vermont Yankee’s closing.

The request came at a joint hearing in Vernon held by the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and Economic Development.

The groups presented lawmakers with a set of strategies for rebuilding a regional economy that they say is already in decline.

Two Vermont House committees have made a special trip to the state's southeast corner to hear about the impact of the impending closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

On Monday, the lawmakers traveled to Vernon Elementary School to hear from business and other local leaders from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and from the general public from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

House Speaker Shap Smith said he hopes lawmakers will gather information that will help them minimize the impact of the plant's closing, which is scheduled late next year. Vermont Yankee employs more than 600 people.

AP/ Toby Talbot

A panel that advises state government on nuclear issues wants the Vermont Yankee plant dismantled promptly after it shuts down next year.

Vermont Yankee is allowed to take up to 60 years to decommission the plant and restore the site for other uses.

The Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel doesn’t want Entergy to wait that long. But at a meeting on Wednesday, the panel stopped short of calling for new state permit conditions that would impose a decommissioning timetable.

A panel that advises Vermont state policy makers on activities at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is again expected to tackle the question of the plant's decommissioning.

The Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel failed to reach a consensus on the question of how long it will take for the plant to be taken down at a meeting last week, due to abstentions and absences among members.

The panel meets Wednesday in Montpelier and is expected to take up the issue again.

Two Vermont House committees are planning a special trip to the state's southeast corner to hear about the impact of the impending closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

On Oct. 28, the lawmakers travel to Vernon Elementary School to hear from business and other local leaders from 1:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon and from the general public from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Susan Keese- VPR

The Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel met in Brattleboro Wednesday to discuss how Vermont Yankee is likely to be dismantled.  The plant’s owner, Entergy, plans to shut the nuclear reactor down in December 2014.

The panel, known as VSNAP, advises the governor and state agencies on nuclear power issues. But the details of Entergy’s decommissioning plans are not yet known.

Toby Talbot / AP

For groups that have fought The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant over the years, the announcement that the plant would close next year represents a victory.

But the victory could also mean less financial support from a public that considers the fight over.

For years, a variety of groups have been arrayed against Vermont Yankee.  For the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, the plant has always been an issue. VPIRG was established in 1972 at the time the plant was starting operation.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is being asked to restrict storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste in spent fuel pools like the one at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

The commission heard recently from two authors of a 2003 report saying densely packed fuel pools create a heightened danger of fire and a catastrophic release of radioactivity. They urged fuel older than five years be stored in dry concrete casks.

A third author of the report was Allison Macfarlane, then a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now chairwoman of the NRC.

AP/Toby Talbot

An Austin-based commission that oversees a radioactive waste disposal site in Texas met in Vermont on Wednesday.

The discussion at the meeting of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission revolved partly around details of requests from companies from Maryland to California to ship low level waste to the West Texas facility.

An anti-nuclear group is calling for a slow, deliberative decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Vermont Citizens Action Network says it opposes the 60-year decommissioning time frame that Entergy Vermont Yankee wants to follow.

But the group says it may take 20 years or so to safely dismantle the plant.

Entergy Vermont Yankee plans to shutdown the plant late next year. The company then has up to six decades to dismantle and decommission the plant under a government-approved process known as “SAFSTOR.”

AP File Photo

The closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant at the end of next year will leave the state with an $11 million dollar gap in tax revenues.

But some politicians – including Gov. Peter Shumlin – suggest Yankee should continue to pay the state. They’re talking about a fee or tax on the storage of high level nuclear waste in Vermont.

The revenue shortfall will arise because when Entergy Vermont Yankee stops producing electricity, it also will stop paying the state’s generation tax.

AP/Jason R. Henske

Studies predict that the announced closing of the Entergy Corporation's Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant will have enormous economic consequences.  How serious those consequences will be depends on decisions that will be made in the coming year. 

In Brattleboro this week, a panel of experts considered ways to keep the region’s interests in the discussion when decisions are being made.

The discussion was sponsored by the Commons, a Brattleboro Weekly. It drew more than 100 people, some of whom had spent years trying to shut the nuclear plant down.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has experienced a steam leak in a key reactor safety system. But a plant spokesman said Thursday technicians have already fixed the problem.

Yankee reported the event to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the leak occurred in the “high pressure coolant injection system,” which is used to inject water inside the reactor vessel if it’s required to shut down suddenly.

Jason R. Henske / AP

Wed 9/11/13 at Noon & 7PM: The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will go offline permanently in 2014, but there are still a lot of questions about the process of decommissioning the plant. 

Even before the news that Vermont Yankee would close in 2014, the state’s southeast corner was grappling with declining jobs, wages and population.

A Career Expo in Brattleboro this month will address these problems, which experts say would exist with or without the region’s highest-paying employer.

A coalition hoping to improve the local employment picture has been working since last fall on the expo, scheduled for September 26.