French nuclear engineering and construction firm Areva said Wednesday it had signed a contract with decommissioning specialist NorthStar, a New York-based firm, to break down, package and transport core components of the Vermont Yankee Boiling Water Reactor in Vernon, Vt.
Areva said the contract covered disposal of the reactor pressure vessel and internal reactor components for the Entergy-owned 620 MWe reactor that was retired December 29, 2014 due to economic factors.
The reactor began commercial operations in 1972. Areva said plans for dismantling the reactor vessel involved “trained teams,” that will “use a variety of operated underwater tools specifically designed for nuclear decommissioning and proven effective in various projects in the United States and Germany.
The segmented reactor parts will then be moved underwater and packaged in shielded radwaste canisters submerged in the reactor pool. 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.
Vermont Yankee's reactor pressure vessel is a large steel cylinder with 5-inch thick walls about as long as a 54-foot semi-truck and trailer, and twice the width of the trailer. 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.
In February 2017, AREVA Nuclear Materials and NorthStar announced the joint venture Accelerated Decommissioning Partners to acquire and decommission shutdown nuclear reactor facilities and their used fuel. Now, ADP is progressing on completing an agreement by the end of the year to acquire two U.S. reactor sites following shutdown.
ADP combines the core competencies of ANM’s nuclear component dismantling and used fuel management with NorthStar’s extensive demolition and environmental remediation expertise to efficiently complete the final stage of shutdown reactor sites.
Areva's Senior Executive Vice President of Customers, Strategy, Innovation and R&D Guilluame Dureau noted that the contract comes on the heels of one recently signed with Vattenfall in Germany “to segment and package the internals of the Brunsbuttel nuclear power plant.”
“We are pleased to have been selected for this project on the other side of the Atlantic,” Dureau said.
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