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NRC cites Entergy for violating decommissioning fund rule at Vermont Yankee

AnEntergy Corp.subsidiary withdrew funds from a decommissioning fund for the nuclear plant tooearly, but the rule violation will go unpunished as the company will not berequired to pay back into the fund, according to the Nuclear RegulatoryCommission.

onFeb. 4, 2015, withdrew $282,000 from the Vermont Yankee decommissioning trustfund for operational spent fuel management planning activities before the NRCgranted the company permission to do so on June 17, 2015, NRC spokesman NeilSheehan said.

In aquarterly inspection reportfor the plant issued May 4, the NRC gave Entergy a Level IV violation — thelowest violation level on NRC's four-point scale — for moving ahead with thewithdrawal and not waiting for authorization from the commission.

TheNRC has ruled that spent fuel management is not an activity directly related todecommissioning planning, Sheehan said. Companies may use 3% of the fund fordecommissioning planning before the NRC has reviewed a plant's Post-ShutdownDecommissioning Activities Report, or PSDAR.

Inissuing the violation, the NRC acknowledged there were some issues with thecommission's clarity on how companies may use the mandatory decommissioningfunds. Sheehan said the commission is currently in the process of issuing arulemaking that will clarify decommissioning regulations.

Inlight of the needed update to the regulations, the NRC did not issue anenforcement action for the violation. According to the inspection report,Entergy staff did not believe permission from the NRC was required before themoney was pulled from the fund for operational spent fuel management planningactivities.

Sheehansaid Entergy has responded by initiating a fleet-wide conditioning report toprevent its other plants in the process of decommissioning from withdrawingfrom their respective funds for spent fuel management pending clarificationfrom the NRC's rulemaking.

TheNRC said the money withdrawn represents a small fraction of the fund's $600million set aside for decommissioning the plant, which was in December 2014.

Entergydid not immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter.