- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the Vermont Yankee operating license from Entergy to NorthStar in a plan to speed decommissioning and restoration of the shuttered power plant.
- Entergy had indicated it would have the decommissioning and restoration complete by 2075, but selling the facility to NorthStar, which specializes in the cleanup of nuclear sites, could speed the process to 2030.
- The Vermont Yankee plant ceased operating in 2014. NorthStar could begin decontamination and dismantlement of the site by 2021, and possibly as early as next year.
While the debate over the future of nuclear power continues, current plant owners still face enormous responsibilities when it comes to decommissioning a raft of plants that have closed in recent years.
As part of the deal to transfer the license to Entergy, regulators required additional financial guarantees from NorthStar to ensure the facility is properly decontaminated.
That decision was cheered by environmentalists who say there is significant risk present during site cleanup.
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was absolutely correct to require these additional guarantees from NorthStar," Conservation Law Foundation Senior Attorney Sandra Levine said in a statement. "This is a major clean-up of a contaminated nuclear site that poses pollution risks for generations to come."
"It is not a project that should be done on the cheap, and it should not leave Vermonters on the hook to pay for cleanup efforts," Levine said.
CLF previously declined to sign on to a state agreement regarding the site's future, arguing the decision was rushed and excluded "reasonable protection for Vermont communities."
The nuclear plant was shuttered four years ago as it struggled to compete against cheap natural gas. ISO-New England has analyzed the plant's closure, concluding the loss of the carbon-free generation combined with an increase in gas- and oil-fired generation to replace it had contributed to a spike in the state's carbon emissions.
The new owner of the plant will be NorthStar Vermont Yankee and the operator in charge of dismantling the plant will be NorthStar Nuclear Decommissioning, according to NorthStar.