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Vermont Yankee To Sell Equipment, Supplies Worth $20 Million At Public Auction

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant closed in December 2014, and now the plant is auctioning off decades worth of accumulated inventory.

The owners of the VY plant had to keep a lot of spare parts around to keep the facility running. While the plant was open, the company had a warehouse filled with equipment that workers might need in case something broke down.

For 25 years, Dave Bauer was the supply manager at Vermont Yankee, and it was his job to purchase and inventory all of  the spare valves, gauges and pumps Entergy needed in case something had to be replaced.

"We didn't ever want to operate in emergency mode, so we planned very carefully to make sure we never had to," Bauer says. "And to do that we had to make sure we had everything we needed to minimize the equipment downtime."

Downtime means lost revenues. And if VY went offline — even for a day — due to a blown pump, the company could have lost thousands, and even millions of dollars.

So it made sense to stockpile all the spare parts. By the time the plant closed at the end of 2014, there was about $20 million worth of equipment on hand.

And now it's all being sold to the highest bidder.

More than four decades worth of spare parts are being stored at an enormous warehouse, in Brattleboro, just a few miles from the shuttered Vernon reactor.

Credit Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR
Thirty tractor trailer loads of surplus inventory were hauled to an enormous warehouse in Brattleboro for the public auction.

The company trucked 30 tractor trailer loads up to the warehouse, and it's all neatly piled on pallets that are numbered and inventoried for the public auction scheduled for the end of this month.

Officially, Bauer calls it the "disposition of surplus assets." But basically, VY is cleaning house.

Down in Vernon, workers are moving the spent nuclear fuel into dry cask storage. But except for that work, it's quiet at the former nuclear power plant.

And Bauer says 42 years of VY history has pretty much come down to this.

"It is kind of sad for us, because it's really like a wake for an old friend." - Dave Bauer, former VY supply manager

"It is kind of sad for us, because it's really like a wake for an old friend," Bauer says. "These are things I myself have bought a lot of over the years when I was buying stuff. And now we have sell it, because the plant is done."

Bauer says a lot of this equipment is similar to what the VY employees were handling day in and day out.

Gauges were read, valves were checked and electrical components were switched on and off, daily, for 42 years.

"These were machines and parts the employees used every day," he says. " So, yeah, there's a lot of memories this evokes."

Some of these parts were ordered special for the plant, and they probably cost thousands of dollars at one time.

But now Bauer says they'll likely be auctioned off for less.

Credit Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR
Dave Bauer was supply manager at VY for 25 years. He's now managing the public auction of much of the equipment he purchased over the years.

"What most people will do, because it's a very good quality of stainless steel, they will sell it for scrap and melt it down," Bauer says. "That's really the value, because it can't be used for anything else."

But it's not just equipment that was needed to run the plant.

There are cleaning supplies, and fire extinguishers. There's a brand new welding kit that's worth a couple of hundred dollars, and a pallet of baking soda.

Bidding opens on Sept. 28, and everything that sells will be shipped out in the following few weeks.

The auction company is responsible for hauling away anything's that left.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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