Scroll down for full report - Vermont Yankee’s Decommissioning As An Example of Nationwide Failures of Decommissioning Regulation filed with the NRC March 23, 2015.
Funded by a Lintilhac Foundation Grant, Fairewinds Energy Education has evaluated Entergy’s plan to use the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) sanctioned SAFSTOR process to decommission Vermont Yankee. Developed by the NRC, SAFSTOR is a subsidy that benefits nuclear power plant owners like Entergy by providing them with a 60-year window to decommission nuclear plants.
Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant permanently ended operations December 29, 2014. Since its shutdown date, Vermont Yankee has continued to be newsworthy with the recent discovery of Strontium-90 leaks in at least four different test wells on the nuclear plant site. Stronitum-90 readily attaches itself to water, is extremely toxic, and has a direct link to leukemia and a host of other cancers.
The NRC met with Vermonters and nearby New Englanders in Brattleboro on February 19 to discuss Entergy’s Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report with the public. Fairewinds’ Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen used the five minutes allotted to him by the NRC to distill 42-years of nuclear power expertise down to one main conclusion: the decommissioning and dismantlement of Vermont Yankee cannot wait. Letting SAFSTOR leave the carcass of Vermont Yankee on the banks of the Connecticut River for 60 years is not the answer for Vermonters. The money exists for Entergy to protect workers and to completely clean up its toxic mess by 2032. Remove VY carcass - veto SAFSTOR
AG: Hi, I’m Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds. I’m here tonight – we have a Lintilhac Grant to analyze the decommissioning plan. So I put in about 200 hours on the decommissioning plan in addition to a 40-year career which included working on subcontractor with Bectel, decommissioning Shippingport and was a member of the Radiation Safety Committee at a plant that decommissioned licensee facilities around the country. So I appreciate that you’re giving me five minutes to explain 40 years worth of experience here. First off, my third grade teacher is rolling over in her grave. It’s Safstore – rhymes with “sap” – not Safestore – there’s no “e” there. Second, there’s no bases in physics for 60 years. It’s a subsidy to the nuclear industry. Here in Vermont, we have – a windmill has to have a fully funded decommissioning study fund before it starts, and we gave Entergy 60 years to clean up. It’s really about the money. It’s not about trying to minimize worker exposure. The example is that a 60-year Safstor will use about 300 REM in radiation, but when Entergy needed to start Palisades up in three weeks, they dished out 115 REM in 3 weeks. So when the goal is to get a plan up and running, dose be damned. Please don’t hide behind dose. Safstor has no bases in physics. (applause) Second is the emergency plan. We should have an emergency plan in place as good as what it was until the fuel is removed. And you have also allowed the tech specs to be changed so the fuel pool ventilation is no longer covered under the technical specifications. That’s an indication that you just don’t believe that an accident can happen. And frankly, we’ve had an accident here. I may be the only one in the room that remembers, but in 2008, the crane brakes broke as they were lifting the canister with spent fuel in it. So accidents can happen and in fact have happened, and I think that needs to be reflected in the emergency plan. I agree with Deb that if you’re going to be moving those canisters, we know the brakes have failed in the past and that’s an indication that they might fail in the future – do it in the summer when the school is out. This is not rocket science and it’s not a lot of money. Move the fuel when the kids aren’t there. (applause) All of this, by the way, will be in a much longer report that Fairewinds will be doing. And also, we will be putting an hour-long presentation that I gave up on the web next week with more details and I urge you to write to these guys in the next month. The next thing is the AOG building. I said five years ago, in 2010, when I was on the Governor’s Oversight Committee, that you were going to find Cesium and you were going to find Strontium under the AOG building. Guess what? You did. Now you’ve got Strontium at the well. I’m telling you, I know where it’s coming from. It’s under the AOG building. We can remove the AOG building now and save money in the decommissioning fund. (applause) We’re paying by the cubic foot. Most of the horses are still in the barn. Most of the horses are still under the AOG building. We can move the AOG building and reduce the ultimate cost of the decommissioning. Now Entergy has already told us in 60 years they’re going to say – they tell us, sue us, we’re out of here, so that if that Strontium’s run, it’s going to be our liability. We have a chance to nip it in the bud. We can close the barn doors, decommission the AOG building right now. That’s for safety; the others are economic. The LLC issue – this is – you guys, we’re establishing a precedent here. The plants you have up there are all utilities. This is an LLC and there’s a big difference, as Deb already said. Mr. Watson from the NRC said three weeks ago that Entergy is ultimately responsible. But in front of the Joint Fiscal Committee just last week, Entergy said we’re out of here in 60 years – sue us. So to me, there’s a big difference here between what the NRC thinks the regulations speak to and what Entergy thinks the regulations speak to. Next is 10(c) (?5:16) of our 5075 is a failure. The model that you use for calculating the money that should be available is simplistic and has no basis in science. Now Fairewinds has developed under the Lintilhac grant a spreadsheet that does this. We spent about 10 days – two people working 10 days to develop a spreadsheet. We’re going to make it available to the State of Vermont and to the country. So you can do a spreadsheet to track how the money develops in the fund and when it’s withdrawn. When I do those numbers, I show we can start decommissioning in 2026 and be done in 2032 if the ISFSI Fund – that’s the Independent Spent Fuel Storage – is not included. You’re allowing Entergy to raid the cookie jar by taking money out of the ISFSI Fund and not returning it when they get it back from Department of Energy. Something’s wrong with your model. I’m going to recommend to the State that they oppose the exemption that Entergy will ask for when they want to raid the ISFSI Fund. And Vermonters are stakeholders. We have a piece of this pie. At the end of this project, if there’s any left over, it’s half ours and half Entergy’s. That’s part of the agreement. So we have a seat at the table. I’m a stakeholder. And finally, the expenditures that are being incurred are being incurred by a company that has no oversight. You guys aren’t giving them financial oversight and the State of Vermont – they’re not a public utility. Who is overseeing the cookie jar? (applause) Your analysis is on health and safety and in fact, TLG is a wholly owned subsidiary of Entergy. So when Entergy couldn’t make money when the plant was running, you can be damn sure they’re going to make money on the decommissioning. As Bill Sorrell said, who’s watching the cookie jar. And I think because this is an LLC, you’ve allowed the horse to be out of the barn there, and the door needs to be closed. Thanks. (applause) - See more at: http://www.fairewinds.org/remove-vy-carcass-veto-safstor/#sthash.3TYyJiWJ.dpuf