Federal regulators have agreed to allow the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to draw from a decommissioning trust fund to help pay for the handling of spent nuclear fuel at the plant.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules prohibit the use of funds for this practice, but the NRC has recently been granting exemptions to nuclear power plants nationwide, the Rutland Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1Bohcp4).
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NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the exemption allows Entergy to take $225 million from the fund to put toward the $368 million needed to handle the spent radioactive fuel.
Entergy spokesman Martin Cohn said the company will use a $145 million line of credit to pay for the first phase of the handling, which includes moving the fuel to an air-cooled concrete and steel storage facility.
Entergy is suing the Department of Energy to recover its spent fuel storage costs and has already won one case in the matter. The company said the government has not kept its promise to take ownership of the fuel.
Cohn said the borrowed $225 million will be repaid to the trust depending upon the lawsuits against the DOE.
"Entergy demonstrated in the exemption request that there is reasonable assurance the trust fund will contain sufficient funds to complete radiological decommissioning and conduct spent fuel management activities," Cohn said.
Some Vermont officials believe withdrawing from the trust will delay the dismantling and cleanup of Vermont Yankee, which closed in December.
Sheehan said Entergy's filings indicate it will need the full 60 years for the trust fund to grow to the estimated $1.2 billion needed to decommission Vermont Yankee.
Information from: Rutland Herald, http://www.rutlandherald.com/