Nuclear Power Plant To Cease Operating In Vermont

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Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will shut down by the end of 2014. The 600 MW plant is located near Vernon, and is owned by Entergy Corporation. It will be closed because it is no longer financially viable. One source cited $50 per MW-hour as the probable cost of producing electricity there currently. The technology employed at the plant is a GE boiling water reactor. It produces from 70-75% of Vermont’s electricity according to various sources. Hydro power plants in Canada and increased usage of natural gas may fill the future energy void.

It is good news that the plant is shuttering because of finances. It means there isn’t a major mechanical problem that is resulting in the release of radiation so there is no hazard to the local community or environment, at the moment.  Nuclear power plant shut downs often result from accidents, both small and large. This one means such an accident will probably never occur. It is still possible one could between now and the final moments, but this scenario seems extremely unlikely.

Vermont’s governor said he thought the current site could be transitioned into green space and that decommissioning the plant might create jobs. The plant currently employs about 650, so there could be a net loss of jobs, however.

He has been an opponent of the plant for some time. Actually, many Vermont residents have been protesting it, going back to the 1970s. Radioactive tritium was found on the site in 2010, but was cleaned up. Another mishap was reported in 2007, when a cooling tower fell but that was also addressed.

Considering the potential problems at some of these old nuclear plants, it seems this story was mainly free of anything too alarming.  It hasn’t been a good news period for the nuclear industry, but anti-nuclear activists must be smiling.

San Onofre and now Vermont. Which old nuclear plant is next?

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Jake Richardson

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