Energy & Environment

Latest round of Vermont Yankee staff cuts set for Thursday

Vermont Yankee 2010

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.

VERNON — Fifteen months after power production ended at Vermont Yankee, the nuclear plant is shedding about 40 percent of its remaining workforce.

On Thursday, 93 staffers will be “processed for leaving” Vermont Yankee, spokesman Marty Cohn said. A majority of those workers are departing the plant immediately, though a handful will stay on for a short time.

The cuts will leave 136 people employed at the Vernon facility.

Vermont Yankee had employed 625 in the summer of 2013, when Entergy Corp. announced plans to close the plant. At shutdown in December 2014, staffing had decreased to 554.

The following month, as the plant’s reactor was permanently defueled, an initial round of layoffs left employment at 316.

As Entergy prepares Vermont Yankee for an extended period of dormancy before cleanup, staffing has continued to decline. Such voluntary departures are one reason the plant’s post-shutdown spending has been lower than anticipated, administrators have said.

This week’s large-scale staffing reduction comes a few weeks after the plant drastically cut back its emergency operations in accordance with a federally approved regulatory change.

Of the 93 people leaving Vermont Yankee, 13 are transferring to another Entergy facility, Cohn said. The other 80 are either being furloughed or are retiring.

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As was the case with the first big round of Vermont Yankee layoffs, the staffing changes are affecting the entire tri-state area. Cohn said 33 of the departing workers live in Vermont, while 36 reside in New Hampshire and 24 in Massachusetts.

After Thursday’s cuts, Vermont Yankee employment is expected to remain relatively stable for the next several years: Cohn said the next significant staffing reduction is not scheduled until the end of 2020.

That’s Entergy’s self-imposed deadline for moving all of the plant’s spent nuclear fuel into dry cask storage. Currently, most of that fuel remains in a cooling pool inside the plant’s reactor building; the company expects to begin transferring the material into sealed casks next year.

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Mike Faher

About Mike

Mike Faher reports on health care and Vermont Yankee for VTDigger. Faher has worked as a daily newspaper journalist for 19 years, most recently as lead reporter at the Brattleboro Reformer where he covered several towns and schools as well as the Vermont Legislature and Windham Superior Court. He previously worked for 13 years in his native Pennsylvania at The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat.

Email: [email protected]

Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeFaher

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