|Susan Smallheer reports that there would be no significant environmental impact stemming from Entergy Nuclear using the Vermont Yankee decommissioning trust fund to help pay for the handling and storage of high-level radioactive waste, according to a notice published in the Federal Register by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.|
Shortly after Vermont Yankee shut down its Vernon nuclear reactor in 2015, Entergy had asked for an exemption that would allow it to tap the plant decommissioning trust fund to pay for future radioactive fuel costs.
At the same time, the company said it had taken out a line of credit, worth $145 million, to pay for building the expansion of the storage facility designed to accommodate the spent nuclear fuel and the costs of transferring thousands of fuel rods from Yankee spent fuel pool into a new storage facility made up of giant concrete-and-steel air-cooled canisters.
The Federal Register notice gave parties, including the state of Vermont, until April 7 to comment on the NRC staff finding. The state, under the Shumlin administration, fought the Entergy request to use the trust fund for those fuel storage costs, but had been repeatedly refused by federal regulators. Last year, the NRC denied the Shumlin administration request for a hearing on Entergy move to use the trust fund. But at the same time, it ordered NRC staff members to perform an environmental review of the Entergy request.
The NRC staff has now performed that environmental review, and concludes that the exemptions did not, and will not, have significant effects on the quality of the human environment. Accordingly, the NRC has decided not to prepare an environmental impact statement for the action.
The spent fuel could remain on-site for many decades and should have gone to the Nevada Yucca Mountain Facility as planned 25 years ago.