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Company Signs Deal To Handle Radioactive Reactor Components At Vermont Yankee

The spent nuclear fuel at Vermont Yankee is being stored in dry casks on the property in Vernon.
Courtesy Vermont Yankee
Dry casks hold some of the spent fuel at Vermont Yankee in Vernon. The company AREVA Nuclear Materials says it will dismantle and haul away the internal reactor components.

A company that specializes in the dismantling of nuclear reactors says it's signed a contract to take down Vermont Yankee in Vernon.
AREVA Nuclear Materials signed the deal with NorthStar Group Services, the company that plans to buy the shuttered power plant and manage the decommissioning and site restoration.

NorthStar specializesin industrial demolition, but doesn't have extensive experience working with large-scale nuclear facilities.

AREVA says it will segment and package the radioactive reactor and internal components and then transport the materials to a facility in Texas. Neither company said how much the deal is worth.

"Our decades of experience decommissioning large nuclear reactors and our proven dismantling technologies provide the certainty required to execute this critical step in the safe and efficient removal of the reactor from the Vermont Yankee site,” AREVA CEO Sam Shakir said in a press release announcing the deal. “In addition to contracting for this Vermont Yankee work, we are excited about the expanded partnership we are forging with NorthStar in the decommissioning market.”

According to the press release, the Vermont Yankee reactor internal components are shielded in underwater tanks in the reactor pressure vessel.

AREVA says it will use remotely operated underwater tools specifically designed for nuclear decommissioning.  The segmented reactor parts will be moved underwater and packaged in shielded canisters submerged in the reactor pool.

Once loaded and capped, the canisters will be lifted from the pool, cleared of all internal water and moisture, externally decontaminated, sealed inside shielded transport casks, and then transported to secure disposal at the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) facility in Texas.

In filings submitted to state regulators, NorthStar said it hopes to partner with Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City company that offers environmental and engineering consulting.

CEO Scott State has said NorthStar can decommission the Vernon site before the end of 2030, which is about 40 years sooner than Entergy would complete the project.

Federal and state regulators still have to sign off on the deal to allow NorthStar to acquire VY from Entergy, which owned the plant during the final years of its operation.

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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