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In Hot Water—The NRC Considers Millstone's Request To Change Temperature Limits

Last summer, Millstone Nuclear Power Plant's Unit 2 shut down for a number of weeks because water temperatures in Long Island Sound exceeded the limits of its licensing agreement.

Millstone Nuclear Power Plant. Patch File Photo
Millstone Nuclear Power Plant. Patch File Photo

Last summer, Millstone nuclear power plant's Unit 2 had to shut down for a few weeks because the temperature of the water from Long Island Sound used to cool the plant exceeded the maximum temperature set under its license agreement with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 

Following the summer shutdown, Millstone applied to the NRC to change the temperature limit set by its licensing agreement. The NRC yesterday formally accepted for review the license amendment request on proposed changes to Millstone nuclear power plant water intake temperature limits. 

Dominion is seeking a change in temperature limit from 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit for both Millstone units 2 and 3. The NRC posed a number of questions to the company and asked for additional information before accepting the request. The NRC staff will now embark on a detailed technical review of the request.

"The acceptance review was performed to determine if there is sufficient technical information in scope and depth to allow the NRC staff to complete its detailed technical review," the NRC wrote in a letter to Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, which owns the nuclear power plant in Waterford. 

"The NRC staff has reviewed your applications dated May 3, 2013, and supplemental information dated June 27, 2013 for Millstone 2 and July 2, 2013 for Millstone 3, and concluded that they do provide technical information in sufficient detail to enable the NRC staff to complete its detailed technical review and make an independent assessment regarding the acceptability of the proposed amendments in terms of regulatory requirements and the protection of public health and safety and the environment," the letter continued.   

None of this will have any impact on the power plant's operation this year, however. 

"As we have said previously, we typically aim to complete our reviews of this kind of amendment request within a year," said Neil Sheehan, spokesperson for the NRC. "In other words, our decision would not be expected until sometime in 2014."

That means existing license restrictions will once again force the plant to shut down should water temperatures rise above the currently accepted temperatures this summer. 

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