Nuclear engineer talks Yankee options

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By Lauren Victory, WPTZ

Watch the interview here

BURLINGTON, Vt. —The news of the closure came as a shock to Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer who has been lobbying against the plant for 10 years. He said the place won't immediately turn into a ghost town and that he has some concerns.

"It doesn't mean we're out of the woods from a safety standpoint," said Gundersen.

Even after Yankee is shuttered in about 15 months, Gundersen said there will still be plenty of activity for at least a few more years.

"The first step is wait five years and get the nuclear fuel out of the fuel pool which is high, down into dry caste storage in the ground," said Gundersen.

Entergy officials have stated they expect to finish decommissioning the plant through a process called SAFSTOR. They said the facility would be drained, secured, then let be for decades.

Gundersen isn't a fan of that plan. "What happens in those 60 years is that the plant's physical structure deteriorates and lets in things like rodents," he said. In his opinion, the better and quicker option is to knock the whole facility down, but that's expensive.

"It's going to be a billion dollars to decommission this plant," said Gundersen, who added that half that bill could fall to Vermonters because of federal regulations.

Again that decision is more than five years away.

In the interim, Gundersen worries about safety.

"It's really critical that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state watch to make sure safety isn't diminished," he said. "The last thing we need is an accident in the last year of this plant's operation."

Entergy writes on its website that safety is a top priority and that it plans to keep current staffing levels until the plant shuts down next year.