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Entergy to permanently shut down FitzPatrick on Jan. 27, 2017

NRC file photo of Entergy's FitzPatrick atomic reactor in upstate NYEntergy Nuclear, in an official regulatory communication with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), has committed to permanently shut down its James A. FitzPatrick atomic reactor in Scriba, NY (six miles northeast of Oswego, NY on the Lake Ontario shoreline, photo at left). The closure date is set at Janurary 27, 2017.

FitzPatrick is a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor. Having fired up in 1974, it is the same vintage, and identical in design, to the GE BWR Mark Is that melted down and exploded at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan in March 2011.

Although the reactor risks will cease (and thus no more irradiated nuclear fuel, or high-level radioactive waste, will be generated), by definition, as soon as the last of the irradiated nuclear fuel is removed from the reactor core, the risks will continue in the high-level radioactive waste storage pool, as well as at the dry cask storage installation for irradiated nuclear fuel. Beyond Nuclear, and hundreds of other groups representing all 50 states, have long called for emptying of the vulnerable storage pools, and expedited transfer in Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) dry casks. (Irradiated fuel must cool for at least five years -- even longer for High-Burnup -- in the storage pool.)

Starting on January 28, 2017, long-term decommissioning challenges to "clean up" (that is, transfer to another location, such as licensed radioactive waste dumps out west) the radioactive contamination of the site and structures will present themselves. Beyond Nuclear has called for the empty pools to be preserved, as an emergency contingency for cask-to-cask transfer operations in the years, and perhaps even decades, of on-site storage ahead.