Fuel Removed from VT Yankee Nuke

Friday, January 16, 2015 @ 01:01 PM gHale

The first big step toward decommissioning Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, removing the fuel, is now over, federal officials said.

The 368 fuel assemblies in the reactor core — the source of the 620 megawatts of power — transferred to the nearby spent fuel pool, which is on the top floor of the five-story reactor building, said officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

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The spent fuel pool now contains 2,995 fuel assemblies, plus one fuel debris canister, said Entergy Nuclear spokesman Martin Cohn.

The NRC received a certified, sworn notice from Entergy Nuclear Site Vice President Christopher Wamser the transfer completed, and as a result, the Vernon, VT, nuclear reactor was no longer generating power, said Neil Sheehan, a NRC spokesman.

“I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct; executed on January 12, 2015,” Wamser wrote.

According to the official notification, it means Entergy Nuclear no longer has a federal license to load the Vermont Yankee reactor with fuel and generate power.

The official notice came two weeks after Vermont Yankee disconnected from the New England power grid and shut down Dec. 29.

Cohn said the first big wave of layoffs at Vermont Yankee would take place next week as planned. About 250 people — just under half of Vermont Yankee’s current employment — should lose their jobs next week.

Entergy Nuclear notified the NRC and the state it plans to put the 43-year-old reactor into SAFSTOR, essentially mothballing the Vernon plant for up to 50 years before the 10-year decommissioning process begins.

The company then will wait until its decommissioning trust fund grows to $1.24 billion, which is Entergy’s latest estimate of what it would cost to dismantle and clean up the reactor and its site. About half that amount is already in the decommissioning trust fund.

Entergy’s goal is to use the fund for activities the state of Vermont is opposing, specifically fuel storage and fuel transfer into the dry cask storage.

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