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NRC seeks public comment on Vermont Yankee report

Federal agency to hold public meeting in area next month

For a copy of the PSDAR, visit 1.usa.gov/1xFT8tL. For more information on the NRC’s decommissioning activities, visit www.nrc.gov/waste/decommissioning.html.

Vermont Yankee ticked a couple more regulatory boxes last month as part of the decommissioning process the plant entered in the New Year.

Federal regulators have opened a public comment period on the plant’s decommissioning plans.

VY’s owner, Entergy, submitted its federally required Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Dec. 19, 2014. The PSDAR included a Site-Specific Decommissioning Cost Estimate.

The public can comment on the report through March 23.

The nuclear reactor in Vernon permanently shut Dec. 29, 2014 following 42 years of service. Entergy decided to close the plant due to economic reasons. The plant has entered its next phase: decommissioning. Entergy has opted for one of three decommissioning models allowed by the NRC called SAFSTOR.

In a press release, the NRC wrote that public comments on the PSDAR received after March 23 “will be considered if practical to do so.”

The NRC will hold a public meeting in Brattleboro on Feb. 19. The commission will accept additional comments on the PSDAR and discuss the plant’s decommissioning process at that meeting.

Entergy also formally notified the NRC that the plant has ceased production and moved all nuclear fuel from the reactor to spent fuel pool. The formal notification from Entergy also means that VY’s operating license will come to a close.

NRC spokesperson Neil Sheehan said that notifying the commission that the plant has shut down means that VY is unlikely to start generating power ever again.

Sheehan said that trying to restart the reactor would require filing a new licensing application equivalent to approving a brand-new reactor.

It’s rare that a company tries to restart a closed plant, he said. The only plant he said came to mind was the Browns Ferry plant on the Tennessee River, near Athens, Ala.

Sheehan added that although the NRC will change its focus with VY going into decommissioning, the commission will not step away from oversight of the plant.

The commission has stayed involved with VY, he said. This month, two full-time NRC inspectors are on site at the plant. One inspector will remain on site starting next month. The commission will continue to provide decommissioning specialists at VY as needed.

In a separate, Jan. 12, letter to Commissioner Christopher Recchia at the Vermont Public Service Department, Entergy stated that it had secured two lines of credit for spent fuel management through 2020. The credit will help minimize the use of the nuclear decommissioning trust fund for loading spent fuel into dry cask storage.

The public meeting is Feb. 19 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Quality Inn, 1380 Putney Rd.

You can also submit comments in writing to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: 3WFN-06-A44M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, or via www.regulations.gov citing Docket No. 50-271.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #288 (Wednesday, January 14, 2015). This story appeared on page A6.

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