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Decommissioning

Although it is imperative that we shut down nuclear plants, they remain dangerous, and expensive even when closed. Radioactive inventories remain present on the site and decommissioning costs have been skyrocketing, presenting the real danger that utilities will not be able to afford to properly shut down and clean up non-operating reactor sites.

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Saturday
Nov232013

Nov. 25th Forum on the Decommissioning of Vermont Yankee in Montpelier

A message from Debra Stoleroff of Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA):

After more than 40 years, our efforts have paid off and the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is closing in 2014 and will be decommissioned. There are many ways to decommission a nuclear power plant; some more safe than others.

So, what does deliberate, thorough and responsible decommissioning mean?  What does it look like? And how can Vermont (and we) advocate for deliberate, thorough and responsible decommissioning with a greenfield when Vermont does not have a legal say in the process?

Deb Katz of the Citizens' Awareness Network (CAN) and Chris Williams of VCAN and VYDA will address what will happen to Vermont Yankee when it closes in 2014.  They will discuss transition, clean-up, long term waste storage and what role citizens can play In the process.

Join VYDA for a forum on The Decommissioning of Vermont Yankee with Deb Katz, Executive Director of Citizens' Awareness Network  and Chris Williams, Director of VT Citizen's Action Network and member of VYDA

Monday, November 25,6:30 pm, at the Unitarian Church, 130 Main St., Montpelier
Sponsored by the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance

For more information call: 476-3154

THE DECOMMISSIONING OF VERMONT YANKEE:

Making VT Yankee Accountable

WHEN:  Monday, November 25, 6:30 pm

WHAT:  Forum with panel discussion and Q&A to address what will happen when Vermont Yankee shutters in 2014. A two-person panel will talk about transition, cleanup, long-term waste storage and what role citizens can play in the process.

WHERE:  Unitarian Universalist Church, 130 Main St., Montpelier, VT

WHO: Deb Katz, Executive Director of the Citizens Awareness Network; Chris Williams, Organizer for Vermont Citizens Action Network

BACKGROUND:

Citizens must remain engaged and demand continued legislative action to support a successful transition to sustainable energy and stricter decommissioning and operational standards going forward. How Entergy will address the issues of transition, closure, and decommissioning is more significant than ever. Recently questions have been raised about how the local community will be affected as well as the state and even the region. 

Can citizens play a role in assuring that Vermont Yankee is properly dismantled, cleaned-up and radioactive waste safely stored?  With the slow motion Fukushima disaster highlighting the vulnerabilities of Mark 1 reactors, how will the state deal with the increased vulnerability of this aged reactor?

The Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance and The Citizens Awareness Network are sponsoring a forum to discuss the issues surrounding the decommissioning, clean up, and accountability of Vermont Yankee.  CAN has been intimately involved with closure and decommissioning of reactors in New England. “Nowhere is the colossal failure of nuclear power more evident than in decommissioning - with its extensive contamination, ballooning costs, limited oversight, and lack of solutions for its contaminated wastes,” said Deb Katz, executive director of the CAN. “Added to this is the inability to trust a systemically mismanaged corporation.”

The choice to hold the forums was based on a lack of relevant information on what decommissioning entails, what choices Entergy is making and what has been the industry standard on decommissioning until now. “The decommissioning of the Entergy Vermont Nuclear Power Plant will be one of the most significant undertakings in Vermont’s history,” said Chris Williams of Vermont Citizens Action Network. “We will have one, and only one, opportunity to get it right."

For more information about this event contact: Debra Stoleroff , 802.476.3154

For more information contact Deb Katz 413.339.5781. Panelists will be available for interviews before the event.

Citizens Awareness Network, instrumental in the closures of Yankee Rowe, Ct Yankee and Millstone Unit 1 reactors, & intervened in the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board hearings on Yankee Rowe and Ct Yankee reactors. CAN won a lawsuit against the NRC in the first circuit Appellate Court over the illegal decommissioning of the Yankee Rowe reactor, the violation of citizen hearing rights and EPA regulations; Represented nuclear worker's health and safety interests before an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board; Participated in an NRC workshop - Site Specific Advisory Boards for Decommissioning, presented a model for public participation; Organized a “Peoples’ Hearing” on Decommissioning Presenters included  representatives from Union of Concerned Scientists, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and Radioactive Waste Management Assoc; Organized Caravan of Conscience Tours to accompany waste shipments from Yankee Rowe And Ct Yankee to Barnwell, SC to high light issues of environmental racism and to alert transport communities about the shipments.  CAN commissioned a seminal paper by Dr. Gordon Thompson on the vulnerability of reactor fuel pools to terrorism in a post 9/11 world that focused on Vermont Yankee and Indian Point.

See the poster for the event here.

Wednesday
Aug282013

Will the Vermont Yankee decommissioning cost $1.2 billion and take 60 years?!

The tritium leak at Vermont Yankee -- first admitted in 2010, and containing other radioactive poisons as well -- will undoubtedly add significantly to the decommissioning costs for radiological de-contaminationAs reported by the Rutland Herald, Entergy Nuclear and the State of Vermont are already butting heads over the timetable and thoroughness of the decommissioning -- dismantlement and clean-up -- of the Vermont Yankee atomic reactor when it permanently shuts down in October, 2014.

As the article reports:

"The announcement that Entergy would be closing the plant has spawned a whole new set of questions for lawmakers, including when Vermont Yankee will be decommissioned, whether Entergy has sufficient money to pay for the process, and the degree to which the site will be restored to its pre-plant condition.

Comments out of both camps Tuesday suggest that Entergy and Vermont politicians may already be on a collision course when it comes to those issues."

Vermont political leaders, from the Governor to the Speaker of the State House, as well as the state's united U.S. congressional delegation, have called for the site to be restored to "greenfield" status as soon as possible. In that regard, they are echoing calls made for many years by grassroots environmental groups like Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA).

However, Entergy is indicating its preference is to mothball the plant for as long as 60 years, under a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved method dubbed "Safstore."

Less than half of the estimated $1.2 billion decommissioning price tag is currently present in the reactor's decommissioning fund, however.

As reported by the Bennington Banner:

'...In 2011 Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders [as well as] Rep. Peter Welch wrote to the NRC expressing their concerns about the SAFSTOR approach as it might be applied to Vermont Yankee.

Their letter said, in part:

"SAFSTOR would let Entergy off the hook for clean-up, waste disposal, and remediation of the plant site in Vernon for years, or even decades."

On Tuesday, Leahy noted that moving quickly to full decommissioning and cleanup would have the added advantage of using the plant’s current highly skilled and experienced workforce, rather than trying to train a new generation of workers with the plant and its older technology decades from now.

Sanders agreed with Leahy.

"Entergy must go through a decommissioning process as soon as possible, a process which will require many workers," he said.

"Clearly there are no people who know the Vermont Yankee plant better than those who are currently employed and they should be given top priority for those new jobs."

Leahy is also concerned about who will eventually foot the bill.

"The full cost of this decommissioning needs to be paid by the plant owner and must not become a burden for Vermont or for the federal government."...'

In other words, those Vermont Yankee workers who have made, on average, $90,000-$100,000 annual salaries, as well as who have made the radiological mess at the Vermont Yankee site, should be the ones responsible for cleaning it up, as well!

As Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps said in a Common Dreams interview:

"It is going to be necessary to have accountability going forward," Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear told Common Dreams. "The regulations surrounding decommissioning in this country are woefully inadequate, and we are facing leaks of radioactive poisons into groundwater systems. Entergy has not put a single penny into [the Vermont Yankee decommissioning fund]. The fight is on to make sure the cleanup is comprehensive."

Sunday
Jun092013

San Onofre decommissioning fund $300 million short -- utility seeks to further gouge ratepayers over shortfall

Image by J. DeStefano, 2012As reported by Bloomberg in a June 7 article entitled "Edison Faces Regulatory Battle Over San Onofre Shutdown Cost," regarding decommissioning costs:

'...The cost to customers may not be settled until late next year, Edison said. The company has already asked for a $16 million a year increase to cover the cost of decommissioning the reactors, Scilacci said on today’s call. The decommissioning fund is about $300 million short of what’s needed, he said.

Both reactors at the San Onofre plant, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Long Beach, were shut in January 2012 after a radioactive leak and the discovery of unusual wear on tubes that transfer reactor heat to power-generating turbines.

Edison may recover some investment costs from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011), maker of the failed plumbing, and from its nuclear insurer, Craver told reporters. The company has asked Mitsubishi for $139 million and $234 million from the insurer, according to a filing...'

Saturday
Jun082013

San Onofre nuclear plant enters its decommissioning phase, which will take multiple decades and cost billions

Image by J. DeStefano, 2012As reported by the Capistrano Dispatch:

'...Victor Dricks, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region IV, which regulates SONGS, said the NRC will continue its oversight of the plant but determination of the impact the announcement will have on existing investigations and licensing actions will have to wait until Edison submits its decommissioning plan.

“The NRC is aware of Southern California Edison’s plans, but the agency is awaiting formal notification of the utility’s actions,” Dricks said. “Once Southern California Edison formally notifies the NRC that it has permanently removed all fuel from the San Onofre reactor cores, the NRC will use its existing processes to move San Onofre to the agency’s decommissioning oversight structure.”

In a conference call with reporters early Friday, Craver said the plant’s closure would be a “multi-decades long process,” cost billions, result in the layoff of hundreds and leave spent nuclear fuel in dry-storage at the plant’s existing sight for years to come.

According to Craver, the company has a $2.7 billion decommissioning fund, after taxes, to handle costs associated with the closure. The fund, he said, should cover 90 percent of expected expenses...'

Saturday
Jun082013

Swan SONGS as Edison opts to permanently close San Onofre

Image by J. DeStafano, 2012Southern California Edison has decided to permanently shutter its Units 2 and 3 San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) reactors in Southern Cal! Congratulations to all who fought so hard for this great victory! Read the Edison press release.

As reported in certain media coverage, the likelihood that the fatal flaws with its steam generators would end up blocking its U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) 20-year license extension rubberstamp contributed to SCE's decision to permanently shutdown both reactors.

NRC immediately canceled imminent meetings re: safety concerns with the defective steam generators, to be held with grassroots anti-nuclear groups near San Onofre, announcing that it would instead move to decommissioning oversight.

"This is very good news for the people of Southern California," said [a] statement from Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica. "We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and wind." 

Pica pointed out that, with so many reactor "retirements" in recent months (Crystal River, FL; Kewaunee, WI; and now San Onofre 2 & 3), NRC stands for Nuclear Retirement Commission.

Beyond Nuclear has compiled comprehensive media coverage on, and other reactions to, the San Onofre 2 & 3 closures at its Nuclear Retreat page.