Entergy Corporation announced Tuesday that it plans to close the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant by the end of next year.
Spokesperson Rob Williams says the decision was an agonizing one for Entergy’s board of directors, who saw a shutdown of the Vernon plant as a last resort. But he says unfavorable economics made the decision necessary.
“The economics are fairly complex but, to put that simply, the main competitor that led to this decision or contributed to it, is the price of natural gas,” Williams says.
There’s no word yet on what will happen to the plant’s 600 employees. Williams will only say they will be treated fairly as the plant transitions from normal operations to decommissioning, plans for which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the plant has two years after shutdown to submit.
“We will continue to assure that the plant is operating safely while it’s operating, and then we will assure that it it being decommissioned safely while it is being decommissioned,” NRC spokesperson Diane Screnci says.
Screnci says decommissioning involves removing fuel from the reactor vessel into a storage facility and the clean up and removal of all systems and components contaminated by radioactivity. That includes everything from soil to pipes that carried water to cool the reactor.
Under NRC rules, Screnci says that process could take up to 60 years.