NEW ORLEANS — Yesterday, Entergy Corporation told its employees that the company’s board of directors voted to approve the fabrication of fuel and the refueling of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in October.
This will be the plant’s 29th refueling.
While the company has received a 20-year license extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the State of Vermont has refused to grant a certificate of public good to continue operating beyond March 21, 2012. That issue is currently being litigated before the U.S. District Court for the State of Vermont.
“Entergy’s board of directors carefully reviewed the merits of our case and the arguments put forth by all parties during the recent hearing in District Court when we requested a preliminary injunction against the State of Vermont taking any actions to close Vermont Yankee,” said J. Wayne Leonard, Entergy’s chairman and CEO. “Our board believes both the merits of the company’s legal position and the record strongly support its decision to continue to trial scheduled to begin on Sep. 12. On that basis, the decision was made to move forward with the refueling as planned.”
During a typical refueling outage, approximately 120 fuel assemblies, or one-third of the reactor core, are replaced with new fuel assemblies. Additionally, workers use the outage to perform Nuclear Regulatory Commission-required inspections, testing and other work that cannot be performed while the reactor is operating. All told, approximately 5,000 tasks are typically performed during the approximately 30-day period. An additional workforce of 800 to 1,000 skilled laborers is assembled to perform these tasks. These workers come from other Entergy nuclear facilities, craft labor unions and outside contractors.
In April, two of Entergy’s subsidiaries, Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, LLC, and Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc., filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the State of Vermont seeking a judgment to prevent the State of Vermont from forcing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to cease operation on March 21, 2012. On July 18, the Court issued a decision denying a preliminary injunction motion filed by the two subsidiaries.