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NRC approves license transfer of Entergy's closed Vermont nuke for demolition

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the shuttered Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant's license from Entergy Corp. subsidiaries Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc. and Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee LLC to NorthStar Vermont Yankee, a subsidiary of industrial demolition company NorthStar Group Services Inc., in order to start the facility's decommissioning.

The Vermont Yankee plant ceased operations in December 2014. Entergy made its request to transfer the license in February 2017, after Entergy and NorthStar announced the deal, which also includes the transfer of the plant's dry cask spent nuclear fuel storage facility, the previous November.

In its Oct. 11 order approving the license transfer, the NRC determined that NorthStar meets the regulatory, legal, technical and financial requirements necessary to qualify as the facility's licensee. The NRC also determined that the transfer is consistent with law and NRC regulations and can be conducted without endangering the health and safety of the public.

In a separate order, the NRC approved a plan for NorthStar to use up to $20 million from the facility's decommissioning trust fund to store spent nuclear fuel at the shuttered nuclear power plant.

The Vermont Public Utility Commission still needs to sign off on the deal. If approved, the transfer will speed up the decommissioning of the closed nuclear power plant by almost 50 years. The sale is targeted to close by Dec. 31, after which NorthStar subsidiary NorthStar Nuclear Decommissioning Co. will be in charge of dismantling the plant.