NOTES: Cleaning Up VT Yankee

  • Resources

  • NOTES FROM CLEANING UP VY: 3 PERSPECTIVES (Dec. 3, 2013, SIT, Brattleboro, VT)

    Quick Links:   BCTV Full Video of Workshop

    Cleaning Up VT Yankee: 3 Perspectives        NOTES        HANDOUT 

    • Tom Buchanan Buchanan Presentation 12-3-13 [download PDF] spoke as an individual; since 2007, Chair of VT Yankee Study Committee, Windham Regional Commission (WRC).
    • Citizens Awareness Network Fact Sheet and Brochure “Vermont Yankee: Slow and Thorough Decommissioning” – not “prompt”, not “Decon,” not Safstor. CAN was instrumental in the closure and decommissioning of Yankee Rowe and the closure of Connecticut Yankee and Millstone Unit 1
    • Radioactive Waste Management Associates  VYDecom-Resnikoff-2-1 [DOWNLOAD PDF] Dr. Resnikoff’s consulting firm, Radioactive Waste Management Associates has assisted public interest groups and state and local governments across the US in identifying and creating solutions for radioactive waste storage. RWMA can be found here.

    Notes from Safe & Green Campaign members.  (In italics are additional info from S&G, audience or other panelists).

    Tom Buchanan

    Chair, Windham Regional Commission’s VT Yankee Study Committee. He was on the panel speaking as an individual. {Buchanan Presentation 12-3-13 Download PDF]

    Yankee Virtual Tour (slides 5-12)

    He began by walking us through the layout of the reactor site from photos taken from the air.

    The site is 148 acres. Site not large but if managed well can eventually be returned to productive use. The cooling towers take up a lot of space.

    Per NRC rules, Entergy is not required to clean up below 3 feet. The reactor building goes 50 feet below grade, turbine bldg. goes 40 feet below, and many other buildings go 30-40 feet below.  There are many tunnels (big enough to stand up in) and underground pipes 35-40 feet below. Entergy could just dig up 3 feet then pave or seed that all over. (Tritium was found at 300 feet below level)

    Switchyard is owned by VELCO so it will not be taken down, sited adjacent to main facility.  VELCO provides more tax money to Vernon than Yankee.

    The current pad for dry casks does not have enough space for all the spent fuel which will be moved from the pool into new dry casks after closure. Tom was unsure if the PSB or state has authority to approve a new pad. If the state requires that Entergy pay for a new pad, Entergy could say fine, we’ll leave it in the pool during SafStor.

    All the railroad tracks to the pad were torn up at some point so transporting dry casks off the site could be a problem, if there is ever a central depository for waste.

    Standards, Decomm & site restoration (slides 14-16)

    NRC has oversight of radiological clean up. Vermont’s allowable radiation standard (20 mrem) is lower than NRC’s (25 mrem).

    Photo of abandoned husk of a concrete reactor left at another decommissioned site, allowed by NRC.

    State has oversight of site restoration.  Definition of site restoration from MOU (slide 16) – WRC believes removal of all structures should include underground structures.

    Timing (slides 19-29; terms defined slide 21)

    Most recently-used fuel must remain in pool for at least 5 years to cool down.

    NRC rules allow delay of cleanup – must be completed within 60 years. Entergy wrote a draft PSDAR in 2012- 54 years of SafStor then Decon complete by 2074 end. Site Specific Decomm Cost Estimate; Updated Spent Fuel Management Plan (slide 21)

    As of Oct 31, $598 million in trust fund; was $310 M in 2002 when they bought it. The fund must grow faster than the rate of inflation plus cost of site maintenance. It must cover decontaminating site, manage fuel, restore site (figures on slide 35 compare Decon and Safstor).

    Decomm Trust Fund (slides 30-39)

    Decomm Trust & power station owned by ENVY – a paper corporation with only a board of directors. It is operated by ENO (Entergy Nuclear Operations). Entergy Corp is home coproration but it is legally separated from ENVY & ENO (limited liability).

    WRC wants PSB to hold Entergy Corp, ENVY & ENO jointly responsible for decomm & restoration. Limited liability partnerships protect Corp – as of now, no financial responsibility. Deb – Every night, Entergy moves all their assets to the Cayman Islands overnight.

    Recommendations/ Compare Decon vs Safstor (slides 41-56).

    Each slide lays out reason why prompt decon is better than Safstor.

    Influencing the Process (slide 57)

    – Full funding of all decomm and then prompt decomm with shortest Safstor possible.

    – We should have one message, from the grassroots to Congress.

    Dr. Marvin Resnikoff Radioactive Waste Management Associates  [VYDecom-Resnikoff-2-1 download PDF]

    How BWR reactor works(slides 2-4).

    Internals shown in schematics

    They will flood the reactor with water to protect workers and spent fuel while removing fuel and disassembling it. (What water do they use – Conn River? Where will it be stored after it is irradiated?)

    How radioactivity decreases over time after reactor shutdown (slide 5)

    Decon vs Safstor (slide 6)

    Dry Casks (slides 8-10)

    Explained what a dry cask looks like and how it works

    No Yankee history of transfers on rail cars of high level waste of these casks

    Decomm trust fund management (slides 11-14)

    Entergy missed the mark on expectations of fund balance from 2002 to present

    TLG – company that projected costs to decomm VT Yankee. Higher costs in reports made before Entergy bought TLG. TLG has also “grossly miscalculated” decomm costs of other reactors.

    Spoke about comparison of Connecticut Yankee and VT Yankee.

    Recommendations (slide 15)

    1 – while labor force there, do independent site survey so workers can show what’s behind this and that

    2 – safe careful dismantlement must start ASAP

    3. – Adequate funds must be available to dismantle reactor and bring to greenfield

    4 – Vt must do an independent economic audit and ensure the decomm fund is fully funded.

    Deb Katz, Citizens Awareness Network [DOWNLOAD Fact Sheet and Brochure]

    In decomm, the colossal failure of nuclear power shows up. Rowe cost $39 million to build, $700 million to clean UP.

    Spent fuel pools are terrorism targets.

    In 1990s deregulation created market of merchant plants – now Entergy is up to their eyeballs in merchant reactors that are falling apart. Yankee, Indian Point, FitzPatrick, Pilgrim, Palisades.

    Radiation Standards & Materials

    VT has a 20 mrem limit of radiation, NRC has 25 mrem (so ours is more stringent). Based on Rowe experience – radiation minimums of ALRs etc – company blamed radon, used as an excuse to leave site with higher levels of radiation than desired.

    Lots of PCBs and other toxic materials are also on site and part of dismantlement and disposal.


    Transfer spent fuel then allow slow (~10 years) gradual decay of radioactive elements to protect workers and reduce amount of radiated waste to be transported to Texas. Env justice issue in Texas. She went to Barnwell, South Carolina to see where Rowe low level waste was going – it is avery poor community, unlike anything we in New England experience.

    Community advisory panel

    Rancho Seco is an example of decom that went slow and well.

    Yankee will be the 1st merchant decomm  (Kewanee, another merchant reactor to decommission, has no activists or state interest.)  What we do is important.

    Legislature meets Jan-May – this will be the last chance state has any way to impact what occurs – before the electricity stops flowing.