Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Prevention Is Easier and Less Painful Than Cure: Keep Vermont Yankee Operable - by Rod Adams

Vermont Yankee (Credit: nukeworker.com) Click to Enlarge.
On Monday, December 29, 2014, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant ... shut down because its current fuel load has been nearly completely used up.  Because no new fuel has been ordered, the plant will remain shut down for at least six months. That estimate is a pure guess; the lead time required to manufacture, deliver and install a new fuel load might be longer than that.

However, despite all assumptions to the contrary, the plant is not yet dead.  The batter at the plate has a good eye and an excellent batting average as long as he is allowed to engage with the pitcher.  There’s also a decent roster of pinch-hitters who can be inserted if the batter has mentally checked out and refuses to wake up.

The point of no return will not arrive until that fateful day when all of the fuel has been removed from the reactor vessel, the company has prepared and submitted two specific documents — one to certify that all fuel has been permanently removed and one to certify permanent cessation of operation — to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted those documents, and has modified the plant license to a “possession only” status.

The process of completing the required steps can be pushed rather rapidly when stubborn decision makers want to make sure their choices are not later reversed — as was done in the case of San Onofre units 2 and 3 — but it can also be delayed for decades by people who want to keep options open — as was done in the case of TVA’s Browns Ferry Unit 1.

For a cost that is arguably lower than the cost of any alternative power, Vermont Yankee could be refueled and operated for another 17-18 years with the possibility of being refurbished and relicensed for another 20 years after that.  It can keep contributing to the local economy and find additional ways to maximize its valuable location.

The highest and best use for a site that is already generating electricity is to keep doing so; adding more clean generating capacity that is not dependent on natural gas would be my first choice if I was involved in the decision making process.

Read more at Prevention Is Easier and Less Painful Than Cure: Keep Vermont Yankee Operable

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