Members of the Texas-Vermont Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission hit the road for a visit to Montpelier. Top on the agenda-- news of the pending closure of Vermont Yankee next year and what that means for future disposal needs.
"We need to know from Entergy what their plans are-- and, quite frankly, from Texas generators-- so we know how to manage the capacity of the site that would come from outside Texas and Vermont that comes in for disposal," said Robert Wilson, the chair of the commission.
The commission, made up of both Vermonters and Texans, oversees a 20-year-old agreement that assures Vermont will have a place to ship its low-level radioactive waste, a kind of reservation system to hold aside space at the West Texas disposal site that opened just last year.
There are not many places in the country set up to handle all three categories of low-level radioactive waste. And with the recent closure of several nuclear plants, officials say demand is growing. Gov. Peter Shumlin, who made a brief appearance to thank commission members, says it's important that the group continue to look out for its member interests first.
"There's nothing wrong with opening it up to other states and obviously the profitability of that's going to be all good news for everybody, but Vermont is protected, Texas is protected and the compact is doing its job," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
Fuel rods and high-level waste that has been around since Yankee fired up back in 1972 will remain on site in dry cask storage. But much of the piping, concrete and other components will eventually be trucked to Texas. Yankee officials say once the plant closes, it will take upward of two years to figure out how long the decommission will take and how much waste it will generate.
"Once we establish that timeline we'll know what page we're on and what page other people are on, but we won't have anything to disagree about until we complete the study," said Mike Twomey of Entergy.
First steps in the long road to Yankee decommissioning.
The state of Vermont has paid about $2.5 million over the years to be included in the compact, in addition to the $25 million put up by Yankee's owners.
Besides the state of Texas-owned facility, Entergy has also been trucking low-level waste to a site in Clive, Utah, west of Salt Lake.
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