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Court Rules Closed Plants Can Hold Nuclear Waste For 30 Years, Not 60

Meanwhile, A National Repository Is Nowhere In Sight

Friday, Attorney General George Jepsen announced a decision by the federal appeals court that allows nuclear power plants to hold onto their spent nuclear fuel (i.e. nuclear waste) for up to 30 years after the plant was shut down, instead of 60.

Spokesman Ken Holt was unsure if this would affect Millstone, which has had two plants operating and one shut down since 1998, and has been storing nuclear spent fuel on site since 18 months after it first opened in 1971. For Holt and the rest of the nuclear industry, the push has always been to have , something the federal government has promised in law but has never delivered.

“They are responsible by law for the spent fuel,” said Holt, who was not sure if the ruling would affect the power station in any way.

The Ruling

Originally, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled that plants could hold on to nuclear spent fuel for 60 years after they were shut down. Several states – including Connecticut - challenged that ruling in court, arguing plants should only be able to keep their nuclear spent fuel on site for 30 years.

The federal appeals court agreed with the states, saying the NRC did not consider “future dangers and key consequences” of having the fuel stored on site, according to press release from Jepsen’s office. Jepsen called it a “landmark” decision.

“This is a critical decision for Connecticut and other states with nuclear power plants,” Jepsen said. “It means the federal regulators must make a full and comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impact of before allowing additional decades of storage of high-level nuclear waste at reactor sites.”

Aside from Millstone, Connecticut has one other decommissioned plant, Connecticut Yankee in Haddam. That site will now be able to hold its waste for 30 years since when it was closed, instead of 60.

How It Applies To Millstone

Holt was not sure if it would apply to Millstone or not. There are three nuclear power plants at the Waterford site, Unit 1, 2 and 3, with Unit 1 being decommissioned in 1998 but Unit 2 and 3 still running.

Therefore, Millstone has stored spent nuclear fuel from Unit 1 on site for the past 14 years after the plant was closed. However, the site is still active, and Holt was unsure if the ruling affects Millstone.

It still remains unclear what would happen with the waste after 30 years, as there is no place to put it. President Barack Obama has cancelled plans for a repository to be built at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, and instead formed a committee to look into the issue.

Ron June 09, 2012 at 03:41 PM
We keep human waste in CT such as Chris Dodd in office for 34 years who produced absolutely nothing for CT or the nation (he really produced the collapse of the banking system and ancestral low ethics standards in the Senate) yet we do not want to keep nuclear fuel rods which produced energy which was equal to trillions of gallons of Arab oil. CT knows less about nuclear power and the safety of depleted fuel rods than it knows how to keep kids who graduate in CT from leaving the state at the highest ratio of all states in the nation for the last 25 years. CT should worry less about the imagined threats of depleted nuclear fuel which is stored in engineered containers that protect the public, than the real threat of economic collapse that is occurring now in the state. CT should feel solace and confidence in the fact the last sentence in the article says Obama canceled the designed solution for the storage issue after 20 billion has been spent on it to placate Harry Reid, and is now going to form a committee to study it. Regretfully the Three Stooges are dead, but I am sure Obama can search the insane asylums and find people who support his and CT's position to end nuclear power in exchange for solutions from Solyndra and other non base load electrical initiatives which this State and President endorse to the detriment of our economic well being and continuance as a world power.
Daniella Ruiz June 09, 2012 at 08:55 PM
ron, well said! unfortunately the stooges HAVE been reborn in another form, and now line the halls of justice, sit in congress and our local state 'bodies'. as thousands perish from real and ongoing environmental and chemical pollution, contaminants and suffer long term loss of healthy living conditions, a few of these anti-nuke maniacs are raising hysteria to de-rail all the planning and actual progress done. we are on a short schedule, emissions are rising, population is logarithmically increasing, and so to will the effects of fossil burns and expenses go up. the demand base that exists now will never be solved, in short term, by the pitiful conversion capacity of wind, photovoltaic or even geothermal energy sources. unless there is an intermediate, (and clean) energy source, we had best expect a return to living among the sand dunes, in tents, wandering from oasis to oasis. god may provide a solution, but we may not like it. we can fund an expedition to Mars, yet cannot honestly say there is funding or the will for finishing a spent fuel repository? if one president can damage our future, this action will far outweigh any sexual philandering done by those of the past.
Casey June 10, 2012 at 12:22 AM
It is truly disgusting that our $20,000,000,000 was thrown away by this president as a political favor to Harry Reid.

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