Vt. Yankee decommissioning continues as Vernon looks to future of site

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 6:04 PM EDT
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VERNON, Vt. (WCAX) - It was once Vermont’s largest power source. Now, the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon is disappearing from the landscape as the town looks ahead to the property’s future.

It has been almost a decade since Vermont’s only nuclear power plant went offline. Slowly, the work continues to take Vermont Yankee apart.

“I think NorthStar has really delivered on their promises,” said Martin Langeveld of the Friends of Vernon Center.

NorthStar took ownership of the former Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in 2019 and is tasked with taking it apart. In its latest update to the Public Service Department’s citizen advisory panel, the company reported progress and zero safety issues. The turbine warehouse is currently being dismantled piece by piece. The smokestack and cooling towers are already gone.

Entergy, the company that ran Yankee for decades, shut the down the plant in 2014.

The Governor Hunt House next door, which Entergy used to own, was gifted to the community after the shutdown and is now home to the nonprofit Friends of Vernon Center.

“Governor Hunt House is right between the village area and a redeveloped Vermont Yankee site, and this would be kind of an anchor,” Langeveld said.

Eventually, this entire site will be a green field, aside from the 58 spent fuel storage containers that house radioactive waste which will be staying put indefinitely.

“Whatever is going to be there, that is a perfect site for development,” Vernon Town Clerk Tim Arsenault said.

Arsenault was a sixth grader at the elementary school across the street when Yankee was built back in 1968.

“We were the first town in Vermont to see the railroad. We had a hydroelectric dam in this town in 1909. We saw Vermont Yankee here as the first nuclear power plant and only nuclear power plant in the state,” he said. “Now, I am excited to see what the next phase of our technology and our future is going to be.”

A $600 million decommissioning fund is paying for the current work. Full site restoration is expected by the end of 2026.

“If we are trying to attract somebody to that plant site or if we are trying to attract somebody to live in the village right out here, this would be a great amenity,” Langeveld said.

A master plan of potential uses for the property is on the town’s website, signifying a new chapter for this community moving forward.

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