BRATTLEBORO — Entergy Corp. plans to permanently shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon on Dec. 29.
Michael McKenney, Vermont Yankee’s emergency preparedness manager, revealed the previously secret date Friday in a state meeting in Vernon with towns in the nuclear plant’s emergency evacuation zone.
Entergy spokesman Robert Williams was less precise Tuesday.
“We have a commitment in the settlement agreement to shut down by the end of the year,” he said in an email. “We are making internal plans consistent with that commitment, and currently assume the final downpower a short period before New Year’s Eve.”
He said, “We may adjust the precise date as we factor in the many scheduling priorities for safe shutdown.”
Entergy had last year described its shut-down date as “late in the fourth quarter,” of 2014 and then refined that to “late in December. ” But the company had been vague about how long it could continue operating with the nuclear fuel remaining in the reactor core.
Erica Bornemann, planning section chief for the state’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said the meeting Friday was called to discuss the emergency planning budget.
Entergy had previously announced plans to all but eliminate emergency planning in surrounding towns starting in 2016.
Bornemann said Entergy had a “small window” to shut down Yankee by the end of the year, but cited a remote possibility it might extend a few days into 2015.
But she said the state opposes elimination of emergency planning for the surrounding communities as long as there is nuclear fuel in the spent fuel pool or on site.
Entergy has petitioned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to be allowed to drop emergency planning outside its gates starting in 2016. However, the company says it won’t have all of its spent fuel moved until 2021 or so.
Entergy has notified state regulatory officials that it plans to expand its dry-cask fuel management facility, which is north of the reactor building.
Bornemann said, “all of it is contingent on the NRC.”
Entergy spent $2.6 million on Vermont emergency planning efforts for the fiscal year that ended in June, and will spent $2.1 million this year.
The difference in spending is that the state is working with the Red Cross to establish a new evacuation zone shelter.
Bornemann said the towns in the emergency planning zone receive a $32,000 base grant from Entergy funds. Westminster, which hosts a “reception center” at the Bellows Falls Union High School, receives $19,000 for planning.
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