Vermont Yankee decommissioning ahead of schedule

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT
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VERNON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s only nuclear plant closed seven years ago but the long process of decommissioning Vermont Yankee continues.

Northstar took ownership of the former Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in January 2019. Since then, the plant has been taken apart piece by piece.

“We are well over a third of the way through the project and we are on or ahead of schedule and right on our budget,” Northstar CEO Scott State said.

State says it’s important the public knows exactly what’s going on at the former nuclear power plant. That’s why he led members of the media on a tour of the site Monday. Northstar decommissions power plants all over the country. Eventually, this will all be coming down. The smokestack and cooling towers are already gone. Inside, just a shell remains where the turbines used to spin, producing power for thousands of homes and businesses.

“Maybe an asphalt parking lot for the spent fuel storage facility but all the above-grade structures will be gone,” he said.

There are 58 spent fuel storage containers that house radioactive waste. These will be staying put indefinitely.

“Until there is a federal facility to take them, as the Department of Energy is compelled to do, they will remain on this site,” site manager Dan Clark said.

Vermont Yankee shut down for good in 2014 after producing energy for more than 40 years. Owners had until 2060 to decommission the plant but that process was sped up by decades after the facility was sold to Northstar. Previous owners of the plant were required to set aside funds for decommissioning and site restoration which totaled around $600 million. Eventually, most of the land will be gifted back to the town.

“It is most likely going to be industrial I would imagine. There is access to water from the river and switchyard that is going to stay there for the foreseeable future as well,” Clark said.

Northstar officials say this will likely be a greenfield as early as 2024. Redevelopment studies for the property are already underway.

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