The defunct Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is one step closer to being dismantled.
AREVA Nuclear Materials, the Washington, D.C.-based company specializing in decommissioning nuclear reactors, signed a contract on July 11 with NorthStar Group Services to help decommission the plant. NorthStar is a New York City-based industrial demolition firm poised to buy and manage the decommissioning and site restoration of the plant.
The deal, the terms of which have not been made public, calls for ANM to segment, package and transport to offsite disposal the Vermont Yankee reactor pressure vessel and internal reactor components.
In a statement, Sam Shakir, ANM president and CEO, said his firm has decades of experience decommissioning large nuclear reactors. "Our proven dismantling technologies provide the certainty required to execute this critical step in the safe and efficient removal of the reactor from the Vermont Yankee site," he said. "In addition to contracting for this Vermont Yankee work, we are excited about the expanded partnership we are forging with NorthStar in the decommissioning market."
ANM will deploy remote-operated underwater tools designed for nuclear decommissioning to remove the reactor's internal components currently housed in underwater tanks inside the reactor pressure vessel, which consists of a massive steel cylinder with five-inch-thick walls nearly 54 ft long and twice as wide as a semitruck's trailer.
"The segmented reactor parts will then be moved underwater and packaged in shielded radwaste canisters submerged in the reactor pool," according to the press release announcing the deal. "Once loaded and capped, the canisters will be lifted from the pool, cleared of all internal water and moisture, externally decontaminated, sealed inside shielded transport casks, and then transported to secure disposal at the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) facility in Texas.
"After removal of the reactor internals, the vessel segmentation will precisely cut the component into large pieces, each specifically designed in final shape and weight to fulfill regulatory requirements for offsite transport and disposal."
The power plants owner, Entergy, announced its plans to sell the defunct power plant to NorthStar. NorthStar has reportedly said it will partner with Kansas City, Mo.-based environmental and engineering consultants Burns & McDonnell to complete the decommissioning process. NorthStar has also reportedly stated that they will decommission the reactor by 2030, approximately 40 years before Entergy planned to decommission the plant.