2009 Timeline

  • Resources

    • Two back-to-back leaks within two days of radioactive water inside the plant, with the latter occurring in a “safety-sensitive” area, causing emergency repairs and a 60% reduction of power (January ’09).
    • Another leak (not radioactive), this time in switchyard, resulting in 30% power reduction (January ’09).
    • Press reports that Jay Thayer, VP of Entergy VT Yankee, was a guest at a Christmas party hosted by VT Dept. of Public Service Commissioner David O’Brien, who originally denied that Thayer attended.
    • Federal report says Entergy finds radioactive contamination of soil surrounding reactor requiring removal of 135,000 cubic feet at a cost of $9.1 million once reactor shuts down (February ’09).
    • With apologies to VT legislators for recent leaks of radioactive water, Entergy says it has replaced its VY site vice-president, general manager, and site manager (February ’09).
    • January ’09 radioactive “steam” leak continues after two unsuccessful repair attempts (February ’09).
    • Entergy reports another radioactive leak, the third of 2009, and says one of the earlier leaks (after three months of spilling thousands of gallons of radioactive water) was finally fixed a week before this latest leak (April ’09).
    • The NRC reports that technicians at Vermont Yankee mishandled a safety issue in the plant’s coolant injection system when, faced with a delay in getting replacement parts for electrical contacts, they failed  to take timely, appropriate action (June ’09).
    • Another leak is reported in the condenser that cools steam before returning it to the reactor as water (following a similar leak in April 2008 that technicians were unable to find), forcing a planned reduction of power “in the next several weeks” so that workers can attempt to locate and repair the leak until a new condenser (estimated to cost $100 million) can be installed in 2013 or 2014 (June ’09).
    • Emergency radio, cell phones , and land lines belonging to Town of Brattleboro fail to work during federal disaster preparedness drill designed to determine whether residents of towns near reactor would need to evacuate in the event of a radiation emergency (June ’09).
    • Still another leak discovered, this time several gallons a minute from the “service water system” that provides cooling water to a key safety component in the reactor (though NRC says leak itself “not considered a safety issue”), despite several recent inspections that found no problem with service water system (June ’09).
    • Entergy announces that algae build-up in Connecticut River water used to cool key reactor components is causing “biofouling” of the reactor’s condenser and will likely result in a reduction of power for a couple hours several days a week for the rest of the summer (July ’09).
    • Entergy acknowledges that “due to an oversight” it has failed to monitor radiation coming from casks of high-level radioactive waste stored on the banks of the Connecticut River starting in June of 2008, even though such monitoring is a condition of Entergy’s cask-storage permit issued by Vermont’s Public Service Board (August ’09).
    • Reduction in power to fix 3,000 gallons/day leak in reactor’s feed-water system (August ’09).
    • Maintenance supervisor suspended after testing positive for alcohol during random fitness-for-duty -
third known incident in past two years of Vermont Yankee employee testing positive for banned substances (August ’09).
    • Vermont Department of Health radiation chief says recent changes at Vermont Yankee are likely to increase radioactivity levels at Vernon Elementary School across road from reactor (September ’09).
    • Entergy declines to offer explanation for 1997 discovery (five years before it purchased reactor) of “hot particles” of radioactive cobalt 60 in Connecticut River (the sediment of which still contains cobalt 60 today, though now less radioactive) or to address implications for current operation of reactor (September ’09).
    • Recently-released April ’09 evaluation, commissioned by the VT Legislature, of the geologic suitability of the site on the banks of the Connecticut River where Entergy has begun long-term “dry cask” storage of the reactor’s highly radioactive spent fuel rods concludes that the storage decision was based on “insufficient data to have reached a conclusion of acceptability of the site and granting of a permit” (October ’09).
    • Legislative report on Entergy’s progress addressing the 80 areas of concern identified in last fall’s Public Oversight Panel independent assessment of Vermont Yankee’s future reliability concludes: “As of Sept. 30, Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee has made only slight incremental progress toward implementing actions on its 80-item list,” and that the reactor has repeatedly not been at full power because of “potentially significant issues” (October ’09).
    • Vermont Legislature’s nuclear expert, Arnold Gunderson, reports that Entergy failed to disclose to the state that some of the reactor’s underground pipes leaked radioactive Cobalt 60 into the Connecticut River. Yankee spokesman Rob Williams says it’s an issue of “miscommunication” (October ’09).