BRATTLEBORO >> When Entergy shut down Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, it initially indicated it would begin the transfer of spent fuel out of the plant's spent nuclear fuel plant in 2019.
However, early Wednesday morning, Entergy announced it would begin the transfer of spent fuel from the pool into dry cask storage two years ahead of schedule.
"The change will provide an even higher level of confidence that the transfer of all spent nuclear fuel that is in the spent fuel pool to dry cask storage and placed on two storage pads will be complete by the end of 2020," stated a press release issued by Entergy on Wednesday.
Chris Wamser, the plant's site vice president, told the Reformer that the costs for transferring the fuel will not come from the plant's decommissioning trust fund.
"Entergy is still committed to funding the transfer of spent fuel from wet to dry with two lines of credit totaling $145 million," he said. The project costs include the construction of the second pad, procurement of dry fuel storage systems, and transfer of the fuel from the spent fuel pool to dry storage.
Even though the transfer of the spent fuel is two years ahead of schedule, noted Wamser, it doesn't affect the time line of the complete decommissioning of the plant, which could take up to 60 years, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations.
The ability to transfer all spent fuel to two independent spent fuel storage installation pads by the end of 2020 depends on obtaining a Certificate of Public Good from the Vermont Public Service Board, according to Entergy's news release. Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee needs the certificate to begin construction of the second storage pad in early 2016. If the certificate is issued, Entergy hopes to complete construction of the second pad in 2017.
The current pad dimension is 76 feet by 132 feet. The second proposed pad dimension is 93 feet by 76 feet.
The plant's dry storage system vendor — Holtec — has indicated that it will be able to accelerate the delivery schedule of dry fuel storage equipment as well as ensure the availability of qualified personnel to facilitate the earlier start of the transfer of spent nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pool to dry storage, according to the news release.
Storing all the spent fuel produced at Vermont Yankee will require 58 dry casks; 13 are already loaded and are on the original pad at the plant. There are 2,996 spent fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool and 884 spent fuel assemblies loaded in 13 casks.
For more information about the decommissioning, visit vydecommissioning.com.