Decommissioning is a multi-step process that begins when a nuclear plant is retired from service. It has several key steps as the facility and systems are secured for long-term storage, carefully decontaminated and dismantled and the land restored for future use. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), together with state and local authorities, oversees each phase of the decommissioning process. Under NRC regulations, a plant must be decommissioned within 60 years of the permanent cessation of operations.
At shutdown on December 29, 2014, Vermont Yankee entered an NRC-approved decommissioning process called SAFSTOR, which permits nuclear power stations to extend decommissioning for up to 60 years. On November 8, 2016, Entergy announced an agreement to sell Vermont Yankee to NorthStar Group Services for the purpose of decommissioning. In addition, Entergy announced plans to accelerate the transfer of Vermont Yankee’s spent nuclear fuel to dry cask storage from 2020 to 2018.
Under the NorthStar plan, Vermont Yankee decommissioning would be accomplished on an accelerated timeline, with the site available for re-use by 2030. NorthStar announced it would lead a team of companies for the Vermont Yankee project that specialize in various areas of nuclear power plant decommissioning:
In 2014, the Vermont legislature established the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP), which meets regularly to discuss various aspects of Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning.www.publicservice.vermont.gov/electric/ndcap
At the federal level, the transaction is under review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with a decision expected by mid-2018. www.nrc.gov
In Vermont, the transaction is under review by the Public Utility Commission, with a decision expected by mid-2018. www.puc.vermont.gov