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NRC Approves Vermont Yankee License Transfer

AP File/Toby Talbot
AP file
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says Entergy can transfer its licenses to NorthStar. The state will also open up its regulatory process following the federal decision.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the license transfer for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.The approval by federal regulators to allow NorthStar Group Services to take over operations at Vermont Yankee is a huge step in finalizing the deal with Entergy.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the 20-month review marked the first time one company would take over a decommissioned nuclear power plant from its owner.

“The financial element was obviously a big part of it,” he said. “We also wanted to take a look at the company’s technical capabilities, whether or not they would be able to perform this kind of work in a very safe manner. And we’ve determined that that was the case.”

Both companies said they wanted to finalize the sale before the end of this year.

“This is an important regulatory milestone in our team’s efforts to safely restore the Vermont Yankee site to conditions suitable for productive economic use decades sooner than originally anticipated,” NorthStar CEO Scott State said in a prepared statement. “NorthStar appreciates the NRC’s careful review of the initial license transfer application and the supplemental information we provided during the process.”

The Public Utility Commission still has to approve the sale, and state put its hearings on hold until the NRC decision was made.

Jim Porter, Vermont’s Director for Public Advocacy, says he expects the state regulatory process to continue very soon, and he said it was reasonable to expect that the sale could be completed before the end of 2018. 

“I would anticipate that the joint petitioners will file something with the Public Utility Commission as early as today,” Porter said. “There’s really nothing in the state MOU that conflicts with the NRC and so I think it is possible to get in an order by the end of the year.”

Entergy shut down VY at the end of 2014, and in November 2016 the company announced that it wanted to sell the plant to NorthStar.

NorthStar is commercial demolition company which has never dismantled a nuclear power plant.

NorthStar said it would be able to use the VY decommissioning trust fund to cleanup and restore the site before 2030, which is about 30 years sooner than Entergy said it would be able to complete the project.

"The proposed sale of Vermont Yankee to NorthStar, if also approved by the Vermont Public Utility Commission, would accelerate Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning by decades – a positive outcome for the town of Vernon, Windham County, the State of Vermont, and of other stakeholders,” said Mike Twomey, vice president of external affairs at Entergy. “In its approval order the NRC determined that NorthStar is qualified to be the holder of the Vermont Yankee licenses.”


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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