Vermont Yankee license extended

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will renew the operating license for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant for an additional 20 years despite the Vermont state Senate blocking the license extension and a legal proceeding. The renewed license is now set to expire in March 2032.

Entergy Nuclear submitted safety and environmental reviews of the application to the staff of the NRC in January 2006. In September of that year, the state of Vermont and the New England Coalition (NEC) challenged the license renewal application. In November 2008, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) required Entergy to revise its metal fatigue analysis for two important nozzles. Entergy submitted the revised analysis in March 2009 and the NEC challenged the adequacy of the new analysis. The board denied the new challenge in July 2009.

In February 2010, the Vermont state Senate blocked the license extension for the plant, essentially closing it when it was set to expire in 2012. The plant also had several tritium leaks that were found and repaired which added to the Senate’s decision.

Then in July 2010, the NRC staff and NEC appealed various aspects of the ASLB’s decisions. The NRC rejected all of the appeals except one, which was returned to the ASLB. During consideration of that remaining issue, NEC requested that a new and different contention be admitted. In October 2010, the ASLB ruled on the remaining issue and rejected NEC’s new contention. NEC appealed that ruling and the NRC voted March 10 to affirm the ASLB’s denial of the new contention and conclude the hearing.

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