The Commons

Getting the area to prepare for long-term storage

Nuclear expert says VY’s nuclear waste isn’t going anywhere soon

Originally published in The Commons issue #200 (Wednesday, April 24, 2013).

Previous page

Alvarez said he estimates VY would need 43 additional dry casks on-site to empty its spent fuel pool. At about $1 million a pop, the casks and the pads they sit on would cost about $43 million.

If VY operates until its current federal license ends in 2032, the cost will jump to $588 million.

The spent fuel situation at VY represents “the tip of the spear of a much bigger crisis,” warned Alvarez.

He said he believes that the states hosting similar single reactor plants, stuffed to the gills with spent fuel, will be left to deal with long-term storage of spend fuel.

Upside-down legal framework

Legally, the federal government assumes responsibility for nuclear waste only when it crosses the threshold of a federal — and so far non-existent — nuclear storage site. Until that day, the waste remains the responsibility of the power plants that produced it.

“The 1982 law does not permit the Nuclear Waste Fund, collected from nuclear power rate-payers since the law was passed, to be spent for dry storage until a geological repository is opened,” said Alvarez.

Storing nuclear waste is an “enormous responsibility,” he said. The legal framework for dealing with waste, however, is “upside down” and needs to be corrected.

VY’s owner, Entergy Corp., faces “enormous costs” operating the single reactor plant and “may close Vermont Yankee at any moment,” Alvarez said.

UBS Securities Swiss financial services company stated in a recent report that VY may close as early as this year.

Given the plant’s age, and economic competition from cheap natural gas prices, “the closure of Vermont Yankee [will happen] well before its license expires” in 2032, Alvarez predicted.

The merchant plant lacks rate-payers to help finance the increased expenses of running the plant. This shrinks Entergy’s profit margin, he said.

Storage at VY

“VY’s pool contains more than 30 years’ accumulation, making it one of the most densely packed radioactive waste pools in the nation, and therefore at increased risk of fire,” wrote Alvarez in talking points to the legislative committees.

The VY reactor has generated about “624 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel contained in 3,427 assemblies holding 215,901 fuel rods” over its 41-year lifespan, Alvarez said. The plant has exceeded the number of assemblies authorized by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which regulates nuclear plants in the country.

This spent fuel with nowhere to go is warehoused in the plant’s spent-fuel pool, he said.

VY has more spent fuel in its pool than Fukushima had.

The pool at VY was designed to house the cooling spent fuel rods for only five years. The intent was then to remove the rods to a permanent federal storage facility.

With that in mind, engineers constructed spent fuel pools with fewer safety features than reactors require, said Alvarez.

Previous | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Next

What do you think? Leave us a comment

Editor’s note: Our terms of service require you to use your real names. We will remove anonymous or pseudonymous comments that come to our attention. We rely on our readers’ personal integrity to stand behind what they say; please do not write anything to someone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face without your needing to wear a ski mask while saying it. Thanks for doing your part to make your responses forceful, thoughtful, provocative, and civil. We also consider your comments for the letters column in the print newspaper.

Comments (4)

Shay (Town State, Belarus) says...
Rien de moins veut quelque chose, vont prendre un lui bourre la, jaune est impatiente plan cul video à sentir sa va lui combler de langues incessants le gland enfin et les sens mais doigts bien profonds bite elle prend visage d'ange ces. Son gland bien plan cul ce soir détail puisque vous, deux fois plus cul offert à que les deux beauté après une, revue érotique ce chance de se mamelles de sa plan cul et de se faire. Vêtue d'une robe vraie pro avant, autour de son, la chatte ... Read More
29th August 2013 9:04am
Hattie Nestel (Athol) says...
Another comprehensive and highly informative article by Olga Peters. The Shut it Down Affinity group has now been arrested 30 times trying to shut down Vermont Yankee before it shuts down New England. I would encourage others to form small groups and follow suit. Hattie Nestel
26th April 2013 8:15am
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Gordon Howard (Manorville, US) says...
It's time to shut down all the Nuclear Power Houses and put all the Spent Rods (Nuclear Garbage) into dry casks, why do we have to wait for a USA Fufushima desaster ????
25th April 2013 2:55pm
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Glenn Carroll (Decatur, US) says...
Thank you for running this lengthy, informative article on spent nuclear fuel. The price tag for moving the nation's highly radioactive spent fuel out of the pools into safer, longer term dry casks would be $7 billion, Alvarez has stated elsewhere, and the nuclear industry estimates are even cheaper, $3.5 billion. This compares quite favorably with the $8.3 billion the U.S. has offered to put up to build new reactors with private industry and it is a positive idea to allow nuclear waste ... Read More
25th April 2013 11:46am
Page 1 of 1

Add Comment

* Required information
(will not be published)
Enter the last letter of the word satellite.
Enter answer:
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form details on this computer.
I have read and understand the privacy policy. *

News and Views




Life and Work


Submit your news

Submit commentary

Support us

Become a member


Print advertising

Web advertising

About us

Contact us