Vermont shutting down Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in late 2014- spent fuel will be transferred to storage

Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to be shut

By Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 4:23 PM EDT, Tue August 27, 2013
 Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant is a general electric boiling water reactor (BWR) type nuclear power plant.
Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant is a general electric boiling water reactor (BWR) type nuclear power plant.

  • "This asset is not financially viable," owner Entergy says
  • The 40-year-old plant employs 630 workers
  • Decommissioning will probably take decades

(CNN) -- The Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor will shut late next year and be decommissioned, its owner announced Tuesday, citing low prices for natural gas and high operating costs.

"This shutdown decision was made because this asset is not financially viable," owner Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee LCC said in a statement.

The 40-year-old plant, which employs 630 workers, is in Windham County on the Connecticut River, near the border with Massachusetts.

During decommissioning, a process that could take decades to complete, fuel will be transferred to storage, Entergy said.

Entergy said decommissioning is expected to cost $566 million, but its decommissioning trust contains $582 million.

The plant's boiling water reactor, made by General Electric, uses river water as a cooling source and is licensed to operate through 2032.

Vermont Yankee had been the subject of a battle between state authorities and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over its GE-designed containment housing known as the Mark 1, one of 23 such reactor housings in the United States.

That was the design used at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where three reactors melted down after the station was struck by the tsunami that followed an earthquake in March 2011. The disaster resulted in the widespread release of radioactive contamination that forced more than 100,000 people from their homes.

Japan fed up with 'whack-a-mole' approach to Fukushima

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission rejected a petition by anti-nuclear groups to shut reactors using the GE Mark I containment.

Japan will need decades to clean up after Fukushima Daiichi, the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

The U.S. nuclear industry hasn't built a new reactor since the 1970s. But on February 9, the commission approved two new reactors at the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia. The reactors differ from those at the GE plants at Fukushima Daiichi and in the United States.

National Energy Institute President and CEO Marvin Fertel called the closure "a great loss to the state of Vermont, the regional economy and consumers and the environment."

But the Vermont plant's finances have dimmed in recent years, as widespread drilling for shale gas has lowered the price of natural gas.

A 2008 post that is still on Entergy's website predicted that "the continued operation will result in over $2 billion in additional income for the residents of Windham County and the state of Vermont as well as increased tax revenues for the state in excess of $300 million in today's (2008) dollars."

At the time, Vermont Yankee was supplying nearly a third of the electricity used in the state.

But the company said Tuesday that it had spent more than $400 million in operating costs since 2002.

"The announcement today by Entergy that it will shutter the troubled Vermont Yankee reactor is the latest -- but certainly not the last -- domino to fall for the failing U.S. nuclear power industry," said Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School.

He noted that Tuesday's announcement follows the August 1 announcement by Duke Energy that it is abandoning its reactor project in Levy County, Florida, and that the French-subsidized nuclear giant EDF was pulling out of the U.S. nuclear power market "due to the inability of nuclear power to compete with alternatives and the dramatic reduction in demand growth caused by increasing efficiency of electricity consuming devices."

He cited the recent closures of four other nuclear reactors: two at San Onofre in California and one each at Kewaunee in Wisconsin and Crystal River in Florida.

"What we are seeing today is nothing less than the rapid-fire downsizing of nuclear power in the United States," he wrote. "It is important to recognize that the tough times the U.S. nuclear power industry faces today are only going to get worse."

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i was considering attending the VT regional aug 1-10- but this bothers me- i worry more so, because it's the same model reactor at Fukushima - and it's 40 years old~!  maybe the truth is found between the lines- maybe they fabricated the cover story of being financially un-able to compete with the natural gas alternatives to mask a disaster scenario being hushed by he U.S. Government to dis-courage panic and mass exodus evacuation?    

 I hope my paranoid what if's are completely irrelevant and un-substantiated. One things for certain- no matter what state you live in- there are many nuclear power plants and buried spent fuel containment regions that many are not even aware of.   I took Potassium Iodide in 2011 when Fukushima went down- and I'm glad I protected my thyroid- no one else in my family would take it- I also went vegan to avoid the milk and meat in my diet.  

...interestingly enough- here is a link to another article by a different reporter- and there is a contradiction- this article states that there was a successful legal action implemented that refused to issue a new 20 year contract for the Yankee Nuclear Power plant in VT; whereas the 1st article I posted states the Yankee Nuclear Power Plant has already been in operation for 40 years. So- who's correct?

Shutting them down should benefit the environment immensely if they can successfully contain the spent fuel/rods etc and have no accidents while transporting the radioactive materials to storage, but with the current economical crisis I worry the safety standards will be low and who's going to be monitoring this progress and make sure no short cuts are being taken? 

...well as long as we're talking facts- here's a list of Nuclear Accidents in the United States I found interesting- I wish we had NEVER implemented nuclear power reactors in the first place. Glad  modern alternatives are ending the production cycle, but now we still have to live with the fallout of previous accidents and any forthcoming from the existing plants and spent fuel/rods. 

Nuclear reactor accidents in the U.S.[20][3]

Date Location Description Fatalities Cost
(in millions
2006 US$)
November 29, 1955 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US Power excursion with partial core meltdown atNational Reactor Testing Station's EBR-1Experimental Breeder Reactor I 0 5
July 26, 1959 Simi Valley, California, USA Partial core meltdown at Santa Susana Field Laboratory’sSodium Reactor Experiment 0 32
January 3, 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US Explosion atNational Reactor Testing Station's SL-1 Stationary Low-Power Reactor Number One 3 22
July 24, 1964 Charlestown, Rhode Island, United States An error by a worker at a United Nuclear Corporation fuel facility led to an accidental criticality 1  ??
October 5, 1966 Monroe, Michigan, USA Sodium cooling system malfunctions at Enrico Fermi demonstration breeder reactor causing partial core meltdown 0 19
July 16, 1971 Cordova, Illinois, USA An electrician is electrocuted by a live cable at theQuad Cities Unit 1 reactor on the Mississippi River 1 1
August 11, 1973 Covert Township, Michigan, USA Steam generatorleak at thePalisades Nuclear Generating Stationcauses manual shutdown of pressurized water reactor 0 10
March 22, 1975 Athens, Alabama, USA Fire burns for seven hours and damages more than 1600 control cables for three nuclear reactors at Browns Ferry, disabling core cooling systems 0 240
November 5, 1975 Brownville, Nebraska, USA Hydrogen gas explosion damages the Cooper Nuclear Facility’s Boiling Water Reactor and an auxiliary building 0 13
June 10, 1977 Waterford, Connecticut, USA Hydrogen gas explosion damages three buildings and forces shutdown ofMillstone-1 Boiling Water Reactor 0 15
February 4, 1979 Surry, Virginia, USA Surry Unit 2 shut down in response to failing tube bundles in steam generators 0 12
March 28, 1979 Middletown, Pennsylvania, US Loss of coolant and partial core meltdown, seeThree Mile Island accident and Three Mile Island accident health effects 0 2,400
November 22, 1980 San Clemente, California, USA Worker cleaning breaker cubicles atSan Onofre Pressurized Water Reactor contacts an energized line and is electrocuted 1 1
January 25, 1982 Ontario, New York, USA Ginna Nuclear Generating Station(then operated byRochester Gas & Electric now byConsellation Energy Nuclear Group) experiences a steam tube rupture, releasing radioactivity into the environment. 0 1
February 26, 1982 San Clemente, California, USA Southern California Company shuts down San Onofre Unit 1 out of concerns about earthquake 0 1
March 20, 1982 Scriba, New York, USA Recirculation system piping fails at Nine Mile PointUnit 1, forcing two year shutdown 0 45
March 25 1982 Buchanan, New York, USA Damage to steam generator tubesand main generator resulting in a shut down Indian Point Energy Center Unit 3 for more than a year 0 56
June 18, 1982 Seneca, South Carolina, USA Feedwater heat extraction line fails at Oconee 2 Pressurised Water Reactor, damaging thermal cooling system 0 10
February 12, 1983 Forked River, New Jersey, USA Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station fails safety inspection, forced to shut down for repairs 0 32
February 26, 1983 Fort Pierce, Florida, USA Damaged thermal shield and core barrel support atSt. Lucie Unit 1, necessitating 13-month shutdown 0 54
September 15, 1984 Athens, Alabama, US Safety violations, operator error, and design problems force six year outage at Browns Ferry Unit 2 0 110
March 9, 1985 Athens, Alabama, US Instrumentation systems malfunction during start-up, which led to suspension of operations at all three Browns FerryUnits 0 1,830
June 9, 1985 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US Loss of feedwater event at Davis-Besse reactor after main pumps shut down and auxiliary pumps tripped due to operator error. NRC review determines site area emergencyshould have been declared 0  ?
April 11, 1986 Plymouth, Massachusetts, US Recurring equipment problems force emergency shutdown of Boston Edison’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant 0 1,001
March 31, 1987 Delta, Pennsylvania, US Peach Bottom units 2 and 3 shutdown due to cooling malfunctions and unexplained equipment problems 0 400
July 15, 1987 Burlington, Kansas, USA Safety inspector dies from electrocution after contacting a mislabeled wire atWolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station 1 1
December 19, 1987 Scriba, New York, US Malfunctions force Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation to shut down Nine Mile Point Unit 1 0 150
March 29, 1988 Burlington, Kansas, USA A worker at theWolf Creek Generating Stationfalls through an unmarked manhole and electrocutes himself when trying to escape 1 1
September 10, 1988 Surry, Virginia, USA Refuelling cavity seal fails and destroys internal pipe system at Surry Unit 2, forcing 12-month outage 0 9
March 5, 1989 Tonopah, Arizona, USA Atmospheric dump valves fail at Palo Verde Unit 1, leading to main transformer fire and emergency shutdown 0 14
March 17, 1989 Lusby, Maryland, US Inspections atCalvert Cliff Units 1 and 2 reveal cracks at pressurized heater sleeves, forcing extended shutdowns 0 120
November 17, 1991 Scriba, New York, USA Safety and fire problems force shut down of theFitzPatrick nuclear reactor for 13 months 0 5
April 21, 1992 Southport, North Carolina, USA NRC forces shut down of Brunswick Units 1 and 2 after emergency diesel generators fail 0 2
February 3, 1993 Bay City, Texas, USA Auxiliary feed-water pumps fail at South Texas Project Units 1 and 2, prompting rapid shutdown of both reactors 0 3
February 27, 1993 Buchanan, New York, USA New York Power Authority shuts down Indian Point Energy Center Unit 3 after AMSAC system fails 0 2
March 2, 1993 Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, USA Equipment failures and broken pipes cause shut down ofSequoyah Unit 1 0 3
December 25, 1993 Newport, Michigan, USA Shut down of Fermi Unit 2 after main turbine experienced major failure due to improper maintenance 0 67
14 January 1995 Wiscasset, Maine, USA Steam generator tubesunexpectedly crack at Maine Yankeenuclear reactor; shut down of the facility for a year 0 62
May 16, 1995 Salem, New Jersey, USA Ventilation systems fail at Salem Units 1 and 2 0 34
February 20, 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US Leaking valve forces shutdownMillstone Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2, multiple equipment failures found 0 254
September 2, 1996 Crystal River, Florida, US Balance-of-plant equipment malfunction forces shutdown and extensive repairs atCrystal River Unit 3 0 384
September 5, 1996 Clinton, Illinois, USA Reactor recirculation pump fails, prompting shut down ofClinton boiling water reactor 0 38
September 20, 1996 Seneca, Illinois, USA Service water system fails and results in closure ofLaSalle Units 1 and 2 for more than 2 years 0 71
September 9, 1997 Bridgman, Michigan, USA Ice condenser containment systems fail at Cook Units 1 and 2 0 11
May 25, 1999 Waterford, Connecticut, USA Steam leak in feed-water heater causes manual shutdown and damage to control board annunicator at theMillstone Nuclear Power Plant 0 7
September 29, 1999 Lower Alloways Creek Township, New Jersey, USA Major Freon leak atHope Creek Nuclear Generating Station causes ventilation train chiller to trip, releasing toxic gas and damaging the cooling system 0 2
February 15, 2000 Buchanan, New York, USA NRC Alert issued after steam tube rupture Indian Point Unit 2 [21] 0 2
February 16, 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US Severe boric acid corrosion of reactor head forces 24-month outage ofDavis-Besse reactor 0 605[22]
January 15, 2003 Bridgman, Michigan, USA A fault in the main transformer at theDonald C. Cook Nuclear Generating Station causes a fire that damages the main generator and back-up turbines 0 10
June 16, 2005 Braidwood, Illinois, USA Exelon’s Braidwood nuclear stationleaks tritium and contaminates local water supplies 0 41
August 4, 2005 Buchanan, New York, USA Entergy’s Indian Point Nuclear Plantleaks tritium and strontium into underground lakes from 1974 to 2005 30
March 6, 2006 Erwin, Tennessee, USA Nuclear Fuel Services plant spills 35 litres of highly enriched uranium, necessitating 7-month shutdown 0 98
February 1, 2010 Vernon, Vermont, US Deteriorating underground pipes from the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant leak radioactive tritium into groundwater supplies 0 700
January 30, 2012 Byron, Illinois, US Unusual Incident reported at Byron Nuclear Generating Station. Loss of off-site power caused unit 2 to run a shut down cycle and release tritium steam into the atmosphere 0 Undetermined the end of the list- i found this one about VT

so I hope folks gathering are aware and don't drink the ground water if the site's near this leak- 

February 1, 2010 Vernon, Vermont, US Deteriorating underground pipes from the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant leak radioactive tritium into groundwater supplies 0

I just found this related info about the 2010 Tritium leak in VT 

How much tritium leaked from Vermont Yankee before the leak was stopped?

A good friend asked me the title question for this blog during the week. The question intrigued me enough to encourage some digging and computations. I would be interested in any questions that you have about the assumptions.

Based on reading a number of different articles and checking through the tables provided by the Vermont Department of Health, the fluid that was leaking into the ground contained tritium at a concentration of approximately 2.5 million picocuries per liter. That is equal to 2.5 x 10^-6 curies per liter. The rate that it was leaving the pipe was roughly 100 gallons (370 liters) per day. If the leak had been going on for a year before being detected and stopped, the total quantity of fluid that left the pipe would equal 138,000 liters. The total activity released would be 0.35 curies.

If a single person consumed every drop of that water, their whole body radiation dose would equal roughly 30 rem. According to a 1977 UNSCEAR study, the LD-50 (lethal dose for 50% of the populatio.... For the kind of low energy beta emissions that are produced by tritium, a rem is equal to a Rad. A dose of 30 rem received over a 1 year period would be unlikely to cause any immediate health effects, though it might add an additional risk of developing cancer sometime during the person’s life. The magnitude of that risk could be computed using the conservative linear, no-threshold dose assumption.

Of course, a person who tried to drink 378 liters per day for a year would have problems more immediate the possibility of increasing their lifetime risk of cancer.

I also was asked to put this discharge into some kind of perspective, so I decided to compare it to the allowable and measured releases from a well operated and safe CANDU reactor in Ontario. Pickering B has a Derived Release Limit (DRL) for tritium of 490,00.... That is 4.9 x 10^17 Bq or 13 million curies. Here is how the Canadian regulators determine the DRL for a facility:

The CNSC requires nuclear facility operators to closely monitor and report tritium releases into the environment. The releases of tritium into the environment are controlled, and do not pose a health risk.

The CNSC sets the limit for the radiation dose for the public arising from the activities of nuclear facilities at 1 mSv per year. In addition, to minimize the environmental impact of tritium releases, the CNSC uses the ALARA principle, which means that licensees are required to keep exposures “As Low as Reasonably Achievable”.

All authorized releases to the environment – known as Derived Release Limits (DRLs) – are calculated using a methodology that considers the various ways in which radionuclides, such as tritium, can impact members of the public.

For instance, the methodology must take into account the impact of tritium releases on locally-grown food, water supply and air quality. The methodology used is conservative and assumes, for instance, that individuals live, work and stay in their community for extended periods of time.

DRLs are specific to each facility, and take into account various regional factors such as meteorological and geographical conditions, as well as the population density near the facility.

Through careful management and application of ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) actions, the plant managed to keep its releases in 2008 to just 200 TBq or 5,400 curies, just 0.04% of its allowed limit. At that rate, Pickering B released almost 15 curies per day, about 40 times as many curies as Vermont Yankee’s infamous leak released in an entire year.

Now can you see why I so strongly believe that the protesters and politicians in Vermont have been stirring up a tempest over a shot glass sized swirl? As one of my mentors used to say – no sense reacting if you cannot overreact.

Peace, Love, and Harmony to the Earth and her Children- We need to learn from the past and that means figuring out what really went down and how not to let it happen again so everyone can heal- including the Earth and we can continue to evolve into the New Age of Environmental Responsibility without corrupting our original DNA/gene pool.


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