2013 Timeline

  • Resources

    • A report by Swiss financial analyst group UBS Securities recommends that Entergy retire Vermont Yankee and FitzPatrick, its two smallest reactors, to help alleviate cash flow problems. (Rutland Herald coverage)  (January 3)
    • The states attorney generals of New York, Massachusetts and Vermont filed comments with the NRC, criticizing its handling of long-term and short-term nuclear waste at nuclear reactor sites. According to the Rutland Herald’s story, “Currently, there are 2,507 fuel assemblies stored on site at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon in its five-story spent fuel pool, with another 884 fuel assemblies in 13 concrete and steel casks outside the reactor building.” (January 4)
    • Federal District Court Judge Murtha denied Entergy’s motion for an injunction that would have barred New England Coalition being heard in it’s complaint to the Vermont Supreme Court, seeking enforcement of Condition 8 of the Sale Order. (January 9)
    • Decommissioning bill introduced in VT legislature. [House Bill 139]
    • VT Public Service Board hearings on Docket 7862 (license extension) are held.  Entergy’s attorneys and executives use federal preemption to object to a majority of issues rasied by the state, including adverse impacts on tourism and the Vermont brand; past tritium leaks and the cooling tower collapse of 2008, which Entergy claims were safety related related events (although at the time they said there were no safety concerns); and false testimony from Yankee executives about the existence of underground pipes carrying radionuclides. (February)
    • NRC requires Entergy to report on its finances after Entergy’s quarterly report with the SEC shows it wrote down the value of Vermont Yankee nuclear plant from $517 million to $162 million. (March 20)
    • During refueling, a 6×10 foot aluminum panel blew off secondary containment due to over-pressurization when workers turned on heat and air-conditioning. (March 18) State of VT DPS requests more information, saying the blow out as the result of three system failures (March 22).
    • Sen. Jeanette White introduces a bill to tax spent nuclear fuel and create a trust fund to manage it. (March 21) [Senate Bill 149]
    • A conduit flood seal between an exterior manhole and the switchgear room failed. 2 feet of water is found in the conduit below the switchgear room, which are centers for electrical cables going from the control room to other parts of the reactor.  Two additional water infiltration areas were found later. NRC inspection found that water from a dredging operation did leak into manholes leading to “vital” switchgear rooms. The plant was closed at the time for refueling. (March 19-22)
    • Chris Recchia, new Dept of Public Service Commissioner,  questions NRC on its re-licensing process  and expresses concern about Entergy’s ability to maintain safety while under financial pressure.   [VT Digger article]
    • VT Supreme Court denies New England Coalition request to shut down VT Yankee based on Entergy’s 2002 sale agreement with the Public Service Board. (March 25)
    • Entergy required to give NRC a $40 million letter of credit because of shortfalls in VT Yankee’s decommissioning fund. Current estimate of decommissioning is $620.8 million;  fund balance is $543.2 million. (April 16)
    • Gregory Jaczko, former NRC Commissioner, calls for the phase out of all 103 operating reactors in the United States. He argued that all nuclear power plants in the United States have a “fundamental design problem”, which cannot be fixed by putting “band-aid on band-aid.”  (April 17)
    • Entergy sues the State of Vermont in federal court, claiming the state has delayed approval of a back-up emergency generator and that they want an injunction saying federal law trumps state law. (April 25)
    • Entergy was “surprised” when the VT Senate Government Operations Committee voted to recommend Entergy be required to pay more than $770,000 to fund an updated evacuation plan as presented by the Red Cross. (April 27)
    • VT Yankee made a report to the VT State Nuclear Advisory Panel discussing post-Fukushima changes in nuclear operations, communications, and evacuation planning. They would not answer questions posed by the public (nor did they mention layoffs). (July 17)
    • The next day, VtDigger reported that Entergy will lay off workers and reorganize the company, following decreased earnings in the second quarter of 2013, dropping from $2.11 a share last year to an estimated $1 per share. (July 18)
    • Four times in June and July, monitors registered “false positives” for high radiation. (July 25)
    • Entergy announces it will lay off approximately 30 workers at Vermont Yankee, 75 at Indian Point, 30 at FitzPatrick and 30 at Pilgrim. (July 30).
    • Entergy and Green Mtn. Power Corp. settle $6.6 million lawsuit over cooling tower collapse. GMP had sued Entergy for increased power costs due to the partial collapse of Vermont Yankee’s cooling towers in 2007 and again in 2008. (August 6)
    • 100 activists in watercraft and supporters on land staged a second SAGE Flotilla on the Connecticut River to draw public attention to Yankee’s thermal pollution. (August 10)
    • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission accepted a 2.206 petition (filed in March by four anti-nuclear groups including Citizens Awareness Network). NRC will investigate Entergy finances to determine if it can safely operate and maintain Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim in Massachusetts and the FitzPatrick reactors in New York. (August 11).
    • Federal Court of Appeals decision on Entergy v. State of Vermont: (1) Act 74 and Act 160 are federally preempted; (2) VT Public Service Board may proceed with their role in the permit process; (3) VT does not have to pay Entergy for its legal fees related to the federal case. (August 14). Federal Appeals  Court by Andrew Stein
    • Another radiation monitor had faulty readings in the week prior to published reports on Monday, August 26. The NRC said in a letter to the state that “the most recent incident involved a radiation detector that was replaced in the last month.” VPR Radio.
    • August 27, 2013– Entergy announces VY WILL CLOSE in 2014: Wall Street Journal. Links to selected closure articles and OpEds plus Safe and Green Campaign’s statement on closure news.
    • A leak occurred in in a key safety system, the “high pressure coolant injection system,” and released a “small amount of radioactivity” within the reactor building, was reported to the NRC and was repaired. (Sept. 19).
    • A low-level alarm of low oil levels was discovered to be a loose compression fitting on a recirculation pump’s motor oil reservoir. Power was reduced to 14% while repairs made. (Sept. 24-25).
    • GAO report: VT Yankee “had the second fewest number of safety violations in the Northeast from 2000 to 2012 among facilities with only one reactor.” Seabrook in NH had the lowest number. The report concluded that NRC enforcement varies widely from region to region. GAO Report.
    • The state would have recommended denying a state license extension if Entergy had not announced closure. “They can’t be relied on for the next 20 years to operate in a manner that fulfills the conditions of any certificate,” DPS Commissioner Recchia said in the Rutland Herald 10/26.
    • “On 11/7/13, it was identified that a missing conduit flood seal between an outside manhole and the West switchgear room compromised the flooding design of both the East and West switchgear rooms. Repair of the seal is in progress…. internal flooding of both Switchgear Rooms could affect (a.) safe shutdown, (b.) removal of decay heat, (c.) control of release of radioactive material and (d.) mitigating an accident.” NRC event notification report (Nov. 8)
    • At a VSNAP meeting, Entergy reiterates that it may choose SAFSTOR (mothballing the reactor for up to 60 years) which allows it to leave the spent fuel in the fuel pool, and delays decommissioning. Entergy also said it may not take up to 60 years, but would delay at least ten years. It also took responsibility for lack of oversight of the seals reported on Nov. 8. (Nov. 14)
    • US Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Edward Markey (D-MA) wrote to the NRC demanding answers to why the NRC capitulated to Entergy’s request that the NRC stay out of Entergy’s finances. (See Aug 11 above, groups petitioned the NRC to shut down 4 Entergy reactors (including Yankee) due to their concerns that Entergy’s precarious finances would result in poor maintenance.)
    • Entergy blames a contractor for failing to make repairs to missing flood seals (see March above).
    • Entergy loses appeal at federal court on Vermont tax on electricity generation that raises $12.5 million in tax revenue in state. VtDigger (Dec. 10)
    • Entergy and VT Dept. of Public Service announce a “Settlement Agreement” The deal and MOU closes all pending law suits and requires the Public Service Board to grant a Certificate of Public Good by March 31, 2014. (Dec. 23)
    • Federal Judge Garvan Murtha dismisses Entergy’s second attempt to recoup its legal fees for its successful preemption lawsuit against the state.