US utility Entergy has shut down the 620MW Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in New England, 42 years after its commissioning.

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The retirement of the facility marks the end of 42 years of power production from the south-eastern town of Vernon in the state.

Since 1972, the power station produced around 171 billion KWh of electricity, which amounted to over 70% of power generated in the state, reports The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Workers at the plant inserted control rods inside the nuclear reactor core marking the end of the process.

Built along the Connecticut River south of Brattleboro, the nuclear facility had been facing competition from shale gas units, which lowered natural gas prices and the cost of wholesale electricity.

Entergy Wholesale Commodities president Bill Mohl was quoted by the WSJ as saying: "Economic factors, especially related to the natural-gas market in the northeast, are the primary reason for the shutdown."

The GE Type 4 nuclear reactor at the facility has been operating at 74% capacity before the shutdown.

The closure is the fourth in the US, which has 104 operating nuclear reactors supporting up to 20% of the nation’s power requirement.

Power market shifts and upgrade costs had affected three other nuclear facilities within the decade, resulting in the shutdown of Dominion Resources’ Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin, Duke Energy’s Crystal River plant in Florida and Edison International ‘s San Onofre plant in California.


Image: The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Photo: courtesy of United States Nuclear Regulatory Comission / Wikipedia.