This month the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) will consider the proposed second dry cask storage pad at Vermont Yankee. This concrete pad would support the remaining reinforced concrete and steel casks containing spent reactor fuel.
Vermont Yankee plans to self-finance the $145 million project, and is willing to begin the fuel transfer two years earlier than planned. The pad’s approval was a condition of the 2013 Entergy/State of Vermont Settlement Agreement providing $50 million of redevelopment funds to Vermont.
This pad is a very big deal for all concerned. Without it, the decommissioning cannot proceed as planned and recently found acceptable by the USNRC. A PSB denial could conceivably place at risk the Settlement Agreement and all of its benefits. Although Vermont Yankee does not produce electricity anymore, approving this spent fuel storage site is an important next step in the decommissioning process.
Ironically, this pad at Vermont Yankee shouldn’t be necessary. Thirty years ago, Congress promised Americans a national spent fuel repository. Billions of dollars have since been collected from the industry, but no repository has been opened. Spent fuel at all U.S. nuclear plants remains onsite.
Recently a faint light appeared at the end of this long, dark tunnel. Two high-level nuclear waste storage sites have been proposed in the American southwest. One or both sites could open within 5-10 years, according to State Nuclear Engineer Anthony Leshinskie. This plan merits the support of Vermont’s federal delegation. Meanwhile, the spent fuel storage site should equally be supported by the PSB.
Communications Director, Vermont Energy Partnership