NRC Okays Vermont Yankee Emergency Plan Changes

There will not be a 10-mile emergency planning zone identified in Vermont Yankee's license, according to NRC's announcement.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Dec. 10 it has granted Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc.'s request to change the emergency preparedness plan for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vt., effective April 15, 2016, now that the plant has been decommissioned. A single boiling-water reactor, Vermont Yankee began operations in 1972 and shut down Dec. 29, 2014. All of its spent fuel has been permanently moved from the reactor vessels into the spent fuel pools for storage, according to the commission.

The changes are exemptions from certain NRC requirements that may not be appropriate. "Once the licensee implements the exemptions, state and local governments may rely on comprehensive emergency management ('all hazard') planning for off-site emergency response to events at Vermont Yankee, rather than having a dedicated offsite radiological emergency response plan approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As a result, there will not be a 10-mile emergency planning zone identified in Vermont Yankee's license," according to NRC's announcement.

It said the plant will maintain an on-site emergency plan and response capabilities, including the continued notification of state government officials of an emergency declaration. "Entergy provided analyses to show the exemptions are warranted because when compared to an operating power reactor, the risk of an offsite radiological release is significantly lower and the types of possible accidents significantly fewer at a nuclear power reactor that has permanently ceased operations and removed fuel from the reactor vessel. The NRC staff evaluated and confirmed these analyses and, based on the NRC staff’s evaluation and recommendation, the Commission approved the exemptions March 2. The exemption package, including a safety evaluation, was issued Dec. 10."

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