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« Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds analyzes Oyster Creek's alert due to Hurricane Sandy | Main | Multiple reactors shutdown due to Hurricane Sandy »
Tuesday
Oct302012

Unacceptable radioactive waste risks taken at Millstone Unit 1

NRC file photo of Millstone nuclear power plant, taken on a calmer, sunnier day than now!The Millstone Unit 1 atomic reactor was permanently shutdown in the mid to late 1990s. Despite this, Dominion Nuclear has kept the high-level radioactive waste storage pool full, instead of moving the wastes into dry cask storage. Why? In order to defer the costs of dry cask storage as far into the future as possible.

But this means that the potentially catastrophic pool storage risks -- such as a high-level radioactive waste fire, due to pool boil or drain down, outside of any radiological containment structure -- persist, needlessly, other than to pad Dominion's profit margin. These risks are borne by downwind and downstream regional residents, however.

Obviously, all the irradiated nuclear fuel in Millstone 1's pool is more than five years cooled and decayed. It can, and should, be moved into dry cask storage. However, current dry cask storage is poorly designed and fabricated, and is not even built to withstand real world accidents or potential terrorist attacks. A united environmental movement has long called for hardened on-site storage, a significant safety and security upgrade on current dry cask storage requirements. But Dominion isn't even willing to transfer Millstone 1's irradiated nuclear fuel into inadequate, status quo dry cask storage.

Millstone nuclear power plant (photo, above left) was impacted by Hurricane Sandy. No surprise there, as it's located on Long Island Sound's north shore, in eastern Connecticut. One of Millstone's two still operating reactors was forced to power down from 100% power to 75% power yesterday, in response to the storm.

Millstone Units 1 (shutdown permanently), 2 and 3 (both still operating) are G.E. Mark Is, just like Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4, as well as Oyster Creek in NJ, perhaps the single hardest hit nuclear plant by Hurricane Sandy.