The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station located in Vernon, Vermont is a single unit boiling water reactor. In this type of power plant, uranium atoms fission (split) producing heat. This heat causes the water in the reactor vessel to boil and turn to steam. The steam turns a turbine which powers a generator to produce electricity just like a coal- or oil-fired plant. A transformer converts the electricity into a high voltage current that is then sent to the power grid via high-tension wires. The steam is converted into water in condensers and pumped back to the reactor vessel so that it can be boiled again.
Vermont Yankee has numerous safety features designed to protect the plant, the environment, and the health and safety of the people around the plant if a problem occurred. These safety systems include the following:
- Several separate sources of cooling water to prevent the fuel from overheating in normal and emergency conditions
- Backup systems and components for key plant functions
- A leak-tight, steel-reinforced concrete containment building
- Backup electric power supplies to operate all key components