Vermont Yankee Decommissioning

On November 8, 2016, Entergy Corp. announced an agreement to sell Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee and transfer the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission licenses to subsidiaries of NorthStar Group Services, Inc. to accelerate decommissioning and site restoration by decades.
Vermont Yankee
Orano USA is proud to support the Vermont Yankee decommissioning agreement with our decades of experience segmenting large-scale nuclear reactors and radwaste management.

Globally, Orano has more than 30 years’ experience decontaminating and dismantling nuclear facilities, and more than 60 years’ experience securely transporting and storing used nuclear fuel.


Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Process

To learn more about the companies and activities involved in the agreement to decommission Vermont Yankee, read through the following information.

1. How long will it take to decommission Vermont Yankee?

Except for the small portion of the site that will be used for dry cask used fuel storage, NorthStar has committed to complete the radiological decommissioning and site restoration by December 2030. Complete site restoration cannot be completed until the Department of Energy (DOE) satisfies its legal obligation to remove all used nuclear fuel stored on the facility. NorthStar’s planned completion date for partial site release is decades earlier than the completion date of June 2075 in the existing Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR).

2. How does NorthStar expect to complete decommissioning decades earlier than the original owner?

A utility’s expertise is in managing a nuclear power facility to generate energy, not decommissioning the facility. NorthStar will leverage its team’s decontamination and dismantling experience to perform the decommissioning in a more efficient manner. NorthStar team member companies bring proven, specialized expertise to complete the complex aspects of decommissioning, including:

  • access to advanced and specialized technology and equipment
  • the ability to leverage scale to secure lower disposal fee rates for material
  • the ability to self-perform activities, which allows NorthStar to collapse a level of management and avoid the expenses that a utility would ordinarily experience managing a decommissioning contract.

3. What benefits may result from an earlier decommissioning?

Accelerating the decommissioning schedule to achieve site restoration promotes the public interest by benefiting the local community, region and state through:

  • allowing the site to be released decades sooner for alternative development; and
  • creating decommissioning-related jobs and economic activity many years sooner, with benefits for the local economy.

4. Which agencies oversee the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee?

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) maintains oversight of the radiological decommissioning of Vermont Yankee. The Vermont Department of Health oversees industrial safety and groundwater monitoring and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources oversees the non-radiological remediation and restoration of the site at the completion of radiological decommissioning.

5. Who is responsible for Vermont Yankee’s used nuclear fuel?

NorthStar is responsible for management of the stored used fuel until the Department of Energy fulfills its legal obligation to take custody of the used fuel and transport it from the Vermont Yankee site to consolidated storage or disposal facilities. NorthStar team member Orano has more than 60 years’ experience transporting and storing used nuclear fuel. Learn more about Orano’s used fuel experience

6. What will happen to the segmented reactor vessel internals and other radioactive waste?

All radioactive waste is secured in NRC-licensed containers. Used nuclear fuel and reactor-generated Greater-Than-Class-C (GTCC) waste will remain in secure storage onsite pending transfer to the Department of Energy. The balance of radioactive waste is being packaged and transported for disposal at Waste Control Specialists' licensed facility in Andrews, Texas.

7. How is radiation exposure contained during the decommissioning process?

All work is being performed in compliance with NRC regulations governing any exposure during decommissioning. The NorthStar project team is sensitive to the proximity of Vernon Elementary School and residences, and is using proven methods to ensure continued safety and protection. The team is experienced in decommissioning and dismantling processes that include robust protection of the workers and surrounding environment through using the facility’s existing barriers, such as performing work inside the containment building, using remotely operated machinery, and additional protection strategies where needed.

8. Who is responsible for site restoration?

As with the site decommissioning, NorthStar has full responsibility for site restoration, and is performing to approved site restoration standards that are generally consistent with those of other regional decommissioning projects. Additional site restoration details are included in the Settlement Agreement.


The Team

1. What qualifications does the NorthStar team have to complete decommissioning projects?

The companies represented in the NorthStar team possess all required management, regulatory, technical and financial qualifications to decommission U.S. nuclear energy sites safely and in accordance with all NRC and state requirements.

2. What is Orano’s role in this agreement?

As a subcontractor on the NorthStar team, Orano is responsible for segmentation of the reactor vessel and its internal machinery, and monitoring the used nuclear fuel stored on the onsite Interim Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI).

Orano USA, with its decommissioning headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, has decades of U.S. experience in reactor vessel and internals segmentation and used nuclear fuel management and storage. As part of the global firm, Orano, the U.S. company brings into the region world leader expertise in large-scale nuclear reactor decommissioning and nuclear materials transportation.

3. How much experience does Orano have decommissioning nuclear energy facilities?

Globally, Orano USA and its parent company have more than 30 years' experience in decontaminating and dismantling nuclear reactors and facilities, and more than 60 years’ experience transporting and storing used nuclear fuel. Orano, through its subsidiary Orano TN, has safely and securely managed used nuclear fuel at more than 30 U.S. facilities using its state-of-the-art dry cask storage system, NUHOMS®.
Learn more about Orano's decommissioning experience

4. What decommissioning experience does Orano have in the U.S.?

Orano and its legacy companies (AREVA Nuclear Materials, Framatome, Transnuclear) have an established reputation in the United States for effectively and safely decommissioning nuclear energy reactors.

  • Maine Yankee, 931MWe PWR (Framatome ANP)
    • Project management, engineering, used fuel storage site design and construction, demolition, waste management and packaging
    • Fixed price contract for segmentation of the reactor vessel internals using abrasive water jet and mechanical cutting
    • Developing and implementing the Solid Waste Collection System (SWCS)
    • Loading segments into containers for GTCC waste storage and transport
  • Millstone Unit 1, 652 MWe Mark I BWR (Framatome ANP, Transnuclear)
    • Project management, engineering, component dismantling, demolition, waste management and disposal, segmentation of reactor pressure vessel and internals
    • All internals segmentation work performed underwater
    • Several remotely operated mechanical segmentation tools used. Segmentation and removal of Upper Grid Assembly using remote Hydraulically Operated Rotating Cutting Equipment (HORCE), segmentation waste collection system, full-scale mock-up testing
  • Rancho Seco, 913 MWe PWR (Transnuclear)
    • Project management, engineering, used fuel storage site design and construction, waste management and packaging
    • Segmentation of the reactor vessel internals using mechanical sawing and milling methods
  • Yankee Rowe, 167 MWe PWR
    • Project management, engineering, primary system decontamination, component dismantling, demolition, waste management and disposal, segmentation of reactor pressure vessel and internals
  • Connecticut Yankee, 590 MWe PWR (Transnuclear)
    • Project management, engineering, primary system decontamination, component dismantling, demolition, waste management and disposal, segmentation of reactor pressure vessel and internals
  • SONGS Unit 1, 450 MWe PWR (Transnuclear)
    • SONGS 1 Dry Cask Storage Project team selected the design of the ISFSI canisters, storage modules, and support equipment from Transnuclear (TN). The fuel canisters are placed horizontally into NUHOMS® Advanced Horizontal Storage Modules (AHSM) on the ISFSI pad.
    • TN provided 18 AHSMs and the associated transfer equipment to move the 17 loaded SONGS 1 used fuel canisters and one Greater-Than-Class-C (GTCC) canister from the used fuel pools to the ISFSI.

5. What is NorthStar’s decommissioning experience?

NorthStar has provided solutions to both commercial and government decommissioning and closure projects for more than 20 years, including experience with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear facilities. NorthStar has performed nuclear reactor D&D to support NRC License Termination Plans at five reactor facilities:

  • Federal Nuclear Research Reactor in Omaha, Nebraska – NorthStar was selected as the prime contractor to decommission the A.J. Blotcky Reactor Facility (AJBRF) within the Omaha Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center. The work was completed and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license was formally terminated in July, 2016. The Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center will continue to function as a hospital post-decommissioning. The owner plans to re-purpose the current AJBRF areas for storage, laboratory space, and/or staff offices.
  • University at Buffalo’s Material Research Center Reactor – NorthStar was responsible for the completion of decontamination and decommissioning (D&D), complete demolition, disposal and site restoration. The NRC license was terminated in 2013.
  • University of Illinois Mark II Reactor Research Facility – NorthStar dismantled, removed, and packaged the reactor, systems, and structures and decontaminated and removed radiologically contaminated surfaces, components, and debris with unrestricted site release. The NRC license was terminated in 2013.
  • University of Arizona Reactor and Nuclear Reactor Laboratory – NorthStar dismantled the reactor, ancillary support systems, removed all radioactive materials from the NRL, and reduced the radioactivity to levels that permitted release of the licensed area for unrestricted use. The NRC License was terminated in 2012.
  • University of Washington Nuclear Reactor – NorthStar removed and disposed of all hazardous and radioactive materials above unrestricted release limits to allow the University to terminate its NRC license for the training reactor, which operated from 1961 to 1988.

Each of these jobs was completed without any NRC or Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) safety violations.

NorthStar’s international experience includes supporting 10 of the United Kingdom’s Magnox Ltd. Reactor sites, as well as installation of radiological detection systems for safeguards and security around the world.

More information about NorthStar’s decommissioning experience:

6. How is the decommissioning project financed?

The ownership transfer to NorthStar included the funds in the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Decommissioning Trust (NDT), which are intended to be used for the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee. As part of its project evaluation, NorthStar created a detailed plan of the Vermont Yankee decommissioning schedule and its associated costs. The total cost of the proposed plan is less than the amount in the NDT.

7. How does NorthStar ensure it has enough funds to complete the decommissioning?

As the NRC licensee, NorthStar is required to submit annual decommissioning funding status reports to the NRC. In the case of cost overruns by NorthStar or its subcontractors, no additional funding will be used from the NDT beyond the fixed price schedule, so the cost risk is carried by the contractor. Additional financial assurance information is included in the Settlement Agreement.

8. What is Orano's financial position?

The global company group has revenue of 4 billion euros and an order backlog that represents the equivalent of nearly eight years of revenue.

Within the NorthStar team’s proposed work schedule for decommissioning Vermont Yankee, Orano’s scope of work segmenting the reactor vessel and reactor internals is on a fixed price basis; therefore, Orano’s project costs applied to the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund will be defined prior to this work beginning and cannot result in cost escalations to the project.


Vermont Yankee Resources

  • VY Decommissioning Website
    Learn more
  • PR - Entergy, NorthStar Reach Settlement Agreement with State of Vermont and Other Parties (2 March 2018)
    Learn more
  • MOU - Vermont Yankee Transfer and Decommissioning (2 March 2018)
    Learn more
  • PR - Entergy announces Vermont Yankee transfer to NorthStar (7 November 2016)
    Learn more
  • NorthStar Decommissioning
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  • Waste Control Specialists (WCS)
    Learn more
  • Vermont Public Utility Commission, Case 8880, NorthStar Entergy Vermont Yankee Transfer
    Learn more
  • Orano Decommissioning & Dismantling
    Learn more
  • Orano Used Fuel Management
    Learn more
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