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Millstone Looking To Vastly Increase Its Nuclear Waste Capacity

Because a national repository remains a broken promise, Millstone is looking to increase its number of dry cask storage units for nuclear waste from 19 up to 135.

Thanks to the continuing non-action by the federal government, Dominion is taking steps to drastically increase the amount of nuclear waste it can store at .

Millstone, as of now, has 19 dry cask storage units to hold nuclear waste, and 18 of them are filled. Dominion, owners of Millstone, will ask the Connecticut Siting Council if they can pour a cement pad capable of holding 135 dry cask storage units, enough to handle almost all the nuclear waste the site will produce until 2045, when the last license for the nuclear power plant expires.

Dominion maintains this is something they should have never had to build, as the federal government promised it would build a . But no repository exists, and likely won’t for awhile, forcing all 104 nuclear power plants across the country to store their own nuclear waste on-site.

“The federal government has a responsibility to take this fuel, and they are not living up to that responsibility,” Millstone spokesman Ken Holt said. “We don’t want to be in the long-term storage business.”

The Town of Waterford and the Town of East Lyme are holding an informational meeting on August 15 in the Waterford Town Hall Auditorium that is open to the public. The point is to give the public as much information as possible directly from Dominion, Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward said.

“This is so people know what is happening,” Steward said. “Let Dominion tell (the public) directly.”

What Millstone Is Doing

Every time one of the units at Millstone is refueled, which is every 18 months, one-third of the nuclear material is taken out and replaced with new nuclear material. The old material, which is now nuclear waste, needs to be stored in a safe place, as it is still radioactive.

Millstone has been storing this waste since its inception in 1970 in spent fuel pools. Spent fuel pools are basically just large pools within the unit, where the waste is kept 20 feet below water to keep it cool and to avoid it from reacting.

The problem is, those pools are starting to fill up, so Dominion requested to build dry cast storage units to hold the fuel. These storage containers are outside of the reactors, and use a passive air system to keep the nuclear waste cool. Only nuclear waste that has sat in the spent fuel pools for five years can be moved to dry cask storage, Holt said.

Dominion secured approval to build 49 units dry caste storage units at Millstone from the Connecticut Siting Council, and was allowed to do the “underground work” for a concrete pad that would hold 135 units. In 2003, Millstone built 19 such units on top of a 173-foot long, 28-foot wide concrete pad, and has since filled 18 with nuclear waste from Unit 2.

Now Millstone wants to extend that concrete pad to hold up to 135 units, Holt said. Again, the Connecticut Siding Council already approved and Dominion has already completed the “underground” work of such a pad about 10 years ago, and this will just be pouring the concrete for the pad, he said.

Millstone will not build all 135 dry cask storage units at the same time, instead building them over time as they are needed, Holt said. Holt refused to comment on the cost of the project, although said it would be millions of dollars.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is okay with the plan, NRC Spokesman Neil Sheehan said. Sheehan said both dry cask storage and spent fuel pools are considered equally effective ways to store nuclear waste.

The pad will increase Millstone's assessed value, Waterford Tax Assessor Mike Bekech said. Bekech said he could not comment on exactly how much it would increase the value.

Yucca Mountain

While dry cask storage is a safe way to store the nuclear waste, the real answer is a nuclear repository, Holt said. Steward and East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica both agreed.

“We need to solve the problem with what to do with the waste,” Formica said. “To me, it makes sense to have a central storage system.”

The federal government spent billions of dollars to turn Yucca Mountain in Nevada into that repository, but the Obama administration has since cancelled those plans. Additionally, plans to recycle nuclear waste – a method used in France – have been put on hold since the Carter Administration in the 1970s, Sheehan said.

That leaves no long-term solution on the horizon, Holt said. That means storing the nuclear waste from Millstone is up to Dominion, although the company has proven itself to handle such a job, Formica said.

“I certainly find Dominion a very capable company,” he said. “They’ve demonstrated through the operations of the plant that those of us who live by are justified to have confidence in them.”

waterford worker August 02, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Are they really increasing the amount of nuclear waste or just storing the waste in a differant location? Maybe it is a good business decision to build the entire pad now when costs maybe lower.
Maureen-42 years past cancer August 02, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Years ago I came into a meeting where Mr. Gigliotti was the First Selectman and selectman Tony Sheridan fielded my concern at the podium, I let the towns people attending a preliminary question and answer meeting at the Waterford High School Auditorium know that while they were filing into the hall, there was a 2.3 on the Richter scale,and the Millstone Power plant is right near a fault line. When Mr. Sheridan sent a police officer go find out if this was true, I had already confirmed it with the New London Police Dept. , he came back and confirmed it was true. Do you really want to have low level storage at this facility in your back yard, near our children? The What IFS are just too great an unknown factor.
Paul Petrone (Editor) August 02, 2012 at 06:44 PM
They are looking to increase their capacity to hold nuclear waste. The actual amount of nuclear waste increases every time one of the units is refueled. There are two units that each get refueled every 18 months.
Ronald Como August 02, 2012 at 07:48 PM
@ Maureen, here is a link for you http://www.sseb.org/downloads/Presentations/TRU/Easton.pdf
Daniella Ruiz August 02, 2012 at 09:04 PM
just like the New London water supply/return and fire safety issues, this is another example of politics morphing into direct conflict with the best interests of the community. perhaps NL would offer to reserve some of it's vacant property for placement of these hot items, it would offer them some extra durable tax cash or it could even be an attraction for tourism, paint them bright colours, give people a simulated geiger counter to wave around and 'detect' any wayward neutrons, like those fake gold mines that scatter flakes of fools gold around. this obviously could be a money maker, at least for the concrete suppliers, riggers, NRC and techies that will monitor these things 24/7/365/eternity. on the other hand, since they have done the 'underground' work for the extra 'hot items' a few years ago, then this 'expansion' must have been well known in advance by our own chiefs of government and on-site nukers. i'm all for it, lets get started, the shovels are ready, the jobless are waiting for opportunities to sweat and toil!!
Ronna Stuller August 03, 2012 at 12:43 PM
All this reinforces that nuclear power is neither cheap nor clean. I am NOT in favor of transporting nuclear waste across the country. But, really, we have had safe, renewable alternatives for decades now. I'd like to see the money and jobs invested to further develop wind, solar, landfill gas and other green sources of electricity. I believe that nuclear became favored - and funded - largely because it is a highly centralized operation; we need to look at more decentralized solutions to our energy needs. And the question needs to be asked, who would cover the cost of Dominion's insurance against potential disasters - the company or the taxpayers? If Dominion agrees to be fully liable for any dangerous consequences of this action, I will reconsider my position.
William Terry August 04, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Look, the nuclear fuel rods come to waterford safely, why is transporting Spent fuel rods to the middle of no where a problem?? Putting them back in the ground, encapuslated for future technology to make them into, perhaps pellets to be used in safely cars of the future 10-20-100 years from now. Get them out of populated areas and inside the mountain storage vaults that even terrorists cannot blow up.
Casey August 05, 2012 at 11:40 AM
".....Thanks to the continuing non-action by the federal government...." What the Federal Government has (Not) done with this issue goes way beyond '..non-action..'. Most recently Obama scrapped this project and the $20,000,000,000 of our money already spent as a political favor to Harry Reid. You see, Yucca Mountain is in Nevada and Harry Reid doesn't want the waste there. "Thank you Mr. President". Wall Street has nothing on these guys.
Ron August 05, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Obama and Harry Reid combined know less about nuclear waste than a 4th grade school kid in Indonesia (or college graduate in Chicago) Millstone has saved the burning of several hundred billion gallons of oil. Of course Waterford and the Democrats would rather have burned several trillion tons of oil or coal to get electricity Reid and Obama are more knowledgeable and passionate on human waste than nucelar waste because it is personal issue with them. Both Reid and Obama have done more combined to destroy America's energy program than any two people in our history. Obama spent $ 600,000,000 on Solyndra for purely political reasons with absolutely no technical evaluation, produced no jobs, and iwent bankrupt in 16 months. Then Obama again destroyed America's future by canceling the Keystone oil pipeline to America. It is rumored Obama is going to invest another trillion in a Pelosi/Reid plan to convert fresh water to seawater, and in the process use the exhaust from the process to heat Al Gore's 45,000 square foot home, and 200,000 ft 2 air plane hanger for his 747 jet, seven zeppelins, and fleet of Chevy Volts and Maserati's.
cancer rates are up there! August 05, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Safe, you think? I got my cancer in 1970, rare form for a child so young, there was a cluster of children in Waterford at that particular time. Seems I was the only one to survive according to a teacher who saw each of us kids since we were ill and missed a lot of schooling. The idea that the RODs were transported through our neighborhoods and possibly exposed the children when they brought them to the plant makes sense. Sorry, I know a lot of people who work at Millstone, but I still have concerns for the children who live in town.
ZIGGY August 06, 2012 at 07:17 AM
tax em on the storage
SAMarshall August 16, 2012 at 05:28 PM
@Maureen RE: Cancer rates up there. Sorry, but you don't know what you are talking about. I know they are safe. You talk about poaaibly getting cancer from rods as they were brought TO the plant. That is 100% impossible. If they were bringing fuel TO the plant, it was not put into the reactor yet, which means that you can (and I have) hold it in your hands with absolutely no radiation dose. Also, all known studies show no known risk from cancer from Nuclear power plants.
SAMarshall August 16, 2012 at 05:32 PM
The nuclear industry is already taxed on the storage of this fuel. In fact, the industry has paid over $30 Billion to the US govt. to finance the storage of the waste. Since the govt. has done nothing with it, the industry now gets to sue the govt. and get back some of that money so that they can build these dry storage sites.
xsailor8 September 05, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Would be more comfortable with this if dominion could actually prove by a physical demonstration that they could move hot material from one cask into another one in the event that a cask became defective.

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