NorthStar expands decommissioning work to Florida

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VERNON — The announcement last week that NorthStar Group Services will be decommissioning another nuclear power plant in Florida should not have an effect on the Vermont Yankee plant decommissioning, according to Scott State, the chief executive officer.

State said Monday that NorthStar and its nuclear partner Orano, a French firm, had recently agreed to take on the decommissioning of the Crystal River nuclear power plant. He said the Crystal River project still needs approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before full scale work can begin. Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said it would likely take a year to review the proposal.

State said Vermont Yankee decommissioning was already ahead of schedule in many key aspects. He said there were about 125 people working at the Vernon reactor already, since NorthStar purchased the closed nuclear reactor in January. He said the level of employment would fluctuate.

State said Duke Energy, the owner of the Crystal River plant, had in addition signed a contract with NorthStar Group Services to decommission two fossil fuel plants on the same 5,000 acre site in Florida. That demolition will begin quicker.

While the Vermont Yankee plant demolition is already underway and will be about a year ahead of the Florida project, he said there will be an exchange of information. He said Crystal River has a pressurized water reactor, unlike Vermont Yankee, which is a boiling water reactor.

"Any lessons learned will be shared," he said, noting the two projects would have different staffs.

He said the Vermont Yankee purchase and the contract with Duke Energy were the first two of what he hopes will be more nuclear decommissioning projects. He declined to say what those nuclear plants might be. He said that NorthStar had the capacity to eventually handle up to six decommissioning projects at one time, as long as they are in a staggered schedule.

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"There are quite a few projects headed to decommissioning," he said. He said decisions would likely be made by the end of the year on two decommissioning jobs.

According to the NRC, there are 11 nuclear plants, including the Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts which shut down on Friday, that are currently slated to shut down in the next six years.

State said that Entergy, which sold Vermont Yankee to NorthStar in early January for $1,000 - along with its roughly $500 million decommissioning trust fund - had decided to sell the Pilgrim Nuclear plant to Holtec International for decommissioning, rather than do business again with NorthStar. Holtec is also under contract with Entergy over the two Indian Point reactors north of New York City.

State said there were several conditions attached to the Pilgrim sale and decommissioning that weren't agreeable to NorthStar.

He said NorthStar and Orano had formed a new company, Accelerated Decommissioning Partners, to do the Duke Energy project.

State said that unlike Vermont Yankee, Crystal River had been shut down for 10 years already, and it too had been prepared by Duke Energy for a long wait before full decommissioning started. He said that Duke Energy wanted to hold on to the nuke site, unlike Entergy in Vermont, and so the Florida site will not be owned by NorthStar.

He said NorthStar had been already working at Crystal River for some time and had hired a project manager.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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