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NRC waste storage study won't affect Millstone

By Judy Benson

Publication: The Day

Published September 08. 2012 4:00AM
Effort will explore doubling safety limit for holding spent fuel

Attorney General George Jepsen's announcement Friday of his support for a new Nuclear Regulatory Commission study of on-site storage of nuclear waste at nuclear power plants will have no impact on the Millstone Power Station in Waterford or its plans to expand on-site waste storage.

Jepsen's statement Friday was in response to a recent NRC decision to direct staff to produce an Environmental Impact Statement on its 2010 finding that spent nuclear fuel could be stored safely at power plant sites for up to 60 years after a plant closed. Before that, the NRC had said spent fuel could be stored safely on site for 30 years after the decommissioning of a reactor.

The 2010 finding was challenged in court by Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, among others. In a June decision, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the rule change could not become final without an impact statement or "finding of no significant environmental impact" as required by the Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The statement is an analysis of the effects of a federal action on various aspects of the environment, alternative actions and steps that could be taken to minimize effects.

Since the ruling, the NRC has said it would develop an Environmental Impact Statement within the next two years, along with a revised finding about the rules for storage of spent nuclear fuel.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the issue pertains only to new plants seeking licenses and to existing plants seeking license renewals. Existing plants with current licenses, such as Millstone Units 2 and 3, would not be affected.

Susan Kinsman, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said Connecticut's main interest in the issue pertains to the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan, N.Y., which is within 30 miles of the state border. The license for one of the two operating reactors there is set to expire next year, and the other is set to expire in 2015. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for a shutdown of the plants.

Ken Holt, spokesman for Millstone owner Dominion, said the company had no comment on the NRC's decision or the attorney general's statement Friday.

Millstone plans to submit an application to the Connecticut Siting Council within the next month for a sevenfold expansion of its capacity for on-site storage of spent nuclear fuel. It currently has 19 dry cask storage units on site and already has permission to build up to 40 units.

This summer, however, the company announced plans to seek permission to build 135 units, enough to contain all the spent fuel for all three plants on the site for their entire lifespan. In addition to Units 2 and 3, the site also houses the decommissioned Unit 1 plant.


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