Vermont Yankee: SAFSTOR & more

Testimony by Vernon resident Howard Fairman to members of the Commerce and Economic Development and the Natural Resources and Energy Committees of the Vermont House of Representatives during their public hearing at Vernon, Vermont, October 28, 2013, regarding impending closure of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee.

Deferred dismantling of a nuclear-power plant, called “SAFSTOR” in the United States, is a United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) radiological safety standard implemented by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Quoting the NRC, “under SAFSTOR, often considered ‘deferred dismantling,’ a nuclear facility is maintained and monitored in a condition that allows the radioactivity to decay; afterwards, it is dismantled and the property decontaminated” (emphasis added). U.S.NRC: Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants

SAFSTOR does not address or mandate disabling or prevention of future operation.

According to the IAEA: “Deferral of dismantling and demolition may reduce the quantities of radioactive waste produced and reduce radiation exposure to site personnel. In addition, this delay in dismantling may permit technological improvements in the future to be incorporated into the process when decommissioning activities are resumed. However, this option could result in the loss of trained and knowledgeable workers.

“There may be additional disadvantages in delaying dismantling and demolition. If deferred dismantling is being considered for a prolonged period of time, due regard should be given to gradual deterioration of the structures, systems and components designed to act as barriers between the radionuclide inventory and the environment. This deterioration may also apply to systems that could be necessary during plant dismantling.”
UN IAEA: Decommissioning of nuclear power plants & research reactors, p.17

I commend your attention to the IAEA’s active and passive options for SAFSTOR and their obvious further disadvantages.
Safe enclosure of nuclear facilities during deferred dismantling, p.15

Mothballing an operating nuclear-power plant via SAFSTOR can allow it to be restarted afterward, such as when natural-gas prices naturally rise with growing domestic demand and international exports, making Vermont Yankee again profitable to operate.

When electricity generated by burning natural gas, already half of New England’s electricity supply, becomes sufficiently costly, Vermonters and our employers may want Vermont Yankee to be restarted to lower our electricity bills.

Moreover, quoting ISO New England: “Given current and anticipated levels of gas usage, potential gas unavailability threatens the reliability of the electric system due to the limited-capacity pipelines used to transport gas, potential gas supply interruptions, and the ‘just-in-time’ nature of the resource.”
ISO New England: Addressing gas dependence (July 2012), p. 1

Quoting the Boston Business Journal dated yesterday, October 27:
New England’s reliance on natural gas drives power bills up nearly 20% this winter

Vermont Yankee, while in SAFSTOR, can be sold along with its decommissioning fund and liabilities to investors betting that future technological improvements and/or enhanced investment performance will leave unspent millions as windfall profits after successful decommissioning, if Vermont Yankee is not instead profitably restarted.

SAFSTOR benefits Entergy Nuclear and potential buyers of Vermont Yankee.

Vernon and Vermont will benefit when Vermont Yankee has been removed entirely and the site has become a greenfield available for creation of new jobs and tax revenues.

Until then, the Town of Vernon and Vernon Town School District, in compensation for enforced unavailability of the Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee site for new economic development, should receive annual hosting payments equal to Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee’s current municipal and education property taxes indexed for inflation.