Connecticut Yankee Power Station

The Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Station was a nuclear power plant located in Haddam Neck, Connecticut. The plant was decommissioned in 2007 after a nine-year process due to the cost of operating in a region where other power plants could handle the electricity needs of customers more inexpensively.

The Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Station began operating on a commercial basis in 1968. The plant operated at an output range of 582 to 619 megawatts. Over the course of the plant’s 28 year of operations, total electrical output was 110 billion kilowatt-hours. The Connecticut Yankee Station was a self-contained company with its own board of directors.  However, this board decided to decommission the plant in 1996, after 28 years of operations. Planning the decommissioning was done over the course of the next two years. The decision was made based on an economic study of area market conditions that showed customers would experience a price benefit if the plant were to close.

Decommissioning a nuclear power plant is a process whereby the plant is shut down in an environmentally safe manner. The containment and deconstruction process takes years to complete. The land cannot be used for any other purpose until the entire process has been completed.  Several methods of decommissioning nuclear power plants are available. The Connecticut Yankee Power Station was decommissioned using the DECON method, which calls for immediate dismantling of the plant. Factors included as part of the process are the transferring of personnel, eliminating long-term maintenance costs, and nuclear waste disposal.

After shutting down the plant in 1998, it would be four more years before the termination plan of the Connecticut Yankee was approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The License Termination Plan, or LTP, details how the company will clean up the site and demonstrate that decommissioning criteria have been achieved. Spent fuel from the plant was stored in a dry fuel Independent Fuel Storage Installation (IFSI) facility located on the property about 3/4 of a mile from site of the reactor. The radioactive waste is stored in a total of 43 casks with a 3.5-inch steel liner under 21 inches of reinforced concrete. The canisters are located above-ground and weigh 126 tons each.  The process was officially completed in 2007, but Department of Environmental Protection deemed that groundwater monitoring must continue until 2011 before the site can be used for other purposes.

During its operation, however, radioactive waste may not have been the only contaminant within the walls of the plant.  Many power plants, including nuclear power stations, built in the mid-20th century contained large amounts of asbestos in their insulating materials.  The asbestos helped protect the machinery and kept it operating at high temperatures, but it also posed a severe health risk to employees who worked at plants like Connecticut Yankee.