GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy announced May 9 that it intends to transfer ownership of the 1,600-acre GEH Vallecitos Nuclear Center to NorthStar Group Services for nuclear decontamination, decommissioning, and environmental site restoration.
Located about 40 miles east of San Francisco, Calif., the site was home to the Vallecitos Boiling Water Reactor (VBWR), which operated from 1957 until 1963 and was the first commercially owned nuclear plant to supply power to the general public. From 1965 through 1975, the center was used to conduct research work for the Atomic Energy Commission’s Nuclear Energy Program and the civilian nuclear power industry.
GEH has already started decommissioning work on the VBWR, as well as on the site’s General Electric Test Reactor and the ESADA Vallecitos Experimental Superheat Reactor. In 2021, GEH informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it intended to complete the decommissioning of the VBWR by 2025.
NorthStar is currently decommissioning the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and, in partnership with Orano, the Crystal River Unit 3 reactor in Florida.
The transfer process: As part of the proposed transaction, GEH and NorthStar have signed an asset purchase and sale agreement and will sign a decommissioning completion agreement at closing.
GEH currently has about 40 employees who will be impacted by the sale of Vallecitos, according to the company, which is subject to review and approval by the NRC, the state of California, and other state and government entities.
GEH said it will work with regulators to complete the license transfer process in a timely manner. Until then, GEH is responsible for the facility and its safety.
He said it: “We have explored strategic alternatives for the site that align to our long-term strategy, changing customer needs, and the external business environment,” said Jay Wileman, president and chief executive officer of GEH. “By transferring the site to a recognized decommissioning expert like NorthStar, we can continue meeting our near-term requirements while maintaining focus on our core business product lines.”