Vermont Yankee Frequently Asked Questions
Safety is Vermont Yankee's top priority at all times. The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is equipped with redundant safety systems that make it extremely unlikely that a nuclear accident would occur that would cause radioactivity to be released into the atmosphere. A "nuclear explosion" is impossible because of the type of uranium that is used in production of nuclear power. Such an "explosion" would counter the laws of physics.
In addition, the walls of the containment structure and spent fuel pool are steel-reinforced concrete several feet thick. Independent engineering studies have shown that even a large airliner could not penetrate the containment structure walls.
Entergy-owned nuclear plants are rated among the safest and best performing facilities in the United States. Please visit our Safety page for more information.
Vermont Yankee's well armed and well-trained security force is larger than most police agencies in the state of Vermont. Since Entergy purchased Vermont Yankee in 2002, many security improvements have been made, including: additional concrete barriers, barbed wire fencing, surveillance monitors and motion detectors, new fortified entrance gates, and stringent identification systems for all persons entering the site. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also has a wide range of measures to protect Vermont Yankee from air attack.
Vermont Yankee is the largest producer of electricity in Vermont. In fact, it represents 80 percent of Vermont's in-state generation. Vermont Yankee is also one of the largest employers in Windham County with more than 650 employees on the payroll. This provides about $100 million every year in economic benefit to the state and region through payroll, taxes and local purchases of goods and services.
In the very unlikely event of an incident at Vermont Yankee, the plant staff will implement an emergency response plan that is approved by the federal, state and local government. That includes immediate notification of the public within a 10-mile radius of the plant through designated local radio stations that are part of the emergency alert system. State and local emergency management agencies would advise residents on what actions, if any, they should take in terms of sheltering or evacuation. Please visit our emergency planning page for more information.
First, Chernobyl was a very different type of facility. It was a reactor that produced power as well as plutonium for military use, creating safety problems that do not exist at Vermont Yankee. Second, Chernobyl was built without containment structures to prevent radioactive material from spreading in the event of an accident. Vermont Yankee, on the contrary, was designed only for the safe production of clean power and protects its materials inside of a containment structure built to withstand the most extreme scenarios.
All U.S. nuclear plants, including Vermont Yankee, are required to have containment structures to protect the health and safety of its workers and citizens. A plant of Chernobyl's design could not have been built in the U.S.
The "uprate" refers to the increase in electricity Vermont Yankee can produce. In June 2006, the facility increased its output by 20 percent, allowing it to produce a total of 650 megawatts (MW) of power. This was done without increasing the size of the plant.
This is important to the region because more electricity will be needed in the coming years. The uprate will supply a portion of that need with additional clean, low-cost electricity that will not require building additional power plants or the associated transmission lines.