Millstone Nuclear Power Plant

The Millstone Nuclear Power Plant is located near the city of Waterford, Connecticut. The name Millstone derives from the fact that the plant was built on the site of a former rock quarry. The Millstone Plant once had three reactors, but Unit 1 has since stopped operating. The two reactors currently running produce a total of 202 megawatts of electricity.

Construction of Millstone 1 began in May 1966 and was completed in 1968. The final safety report was filed in November of that year, and the full operating license was granted in October 1970. The reactor began operating later that same month and was synchronized to the grid in November. The GE boiling water reactor had an output of 660 megawatts and continued operating until 1996. In 1996, a leaking valve on the reactor was detected. This led to the discovery of multiple equipment failures, which meant the plant had to be shut down for safety purposes. Instead of being repaired, the reactor was permanently shut down in 1998.

Construction of Millstone 2 began in 1970. The final safety report for the reactor was filed in 1972, and the full operating license was issued in September 1975. Unit 2 is a combustion engineering reactor with a peak output of 870 megawatts. The entire reactor consists of dual steam generators and four reactor cooling pumps. During a refueling shutdown in 2006, the reactor was fitted with an upgraded pressurizer, and a new safety shutdown system is currently being installed. The current extended operating license for Millstone 2 expires in 2035.

Construction of Millstone 3 began in 1974, but it was not put into operation until 1986. This Westinghouse plant had an original peak capacity of 1,150 megawatts, but the reactor’s capacity was increased to 1,230 megawatts in 2008. Millstone 3 has an extended operating license that allows it to run until November 2045.

The Millstone Nuclear Power Plant has experienced several safety shutdowns. The first shutdown was in 1996. A leaking valve was cause to shut down Unit 1 and Unit 2, but Unit 2 was later brought back online. Another shutdown occurred in 2005. A faulty circuit board responsible for monitoring pressure short-circuited. The circuit board was replaced and the facility went back online without further incident.

Unfortunately, power plants like Millstone don’t always have the best record when it comes to the long-term health and safety of their employees.  Due to the nature of the work at this plant,  extremely high temperatures are commonplace, so an effective insulating material is needed to protect the facilities and machinery.  For many nuclear power plants, this material was asbestos, a thread-like mineral that has been shown to cause serious diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer with a latency period of 20 to 50 years. Since the cancer goes without diagnosis for so long, once a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the cancer has advanced so much that there is little treatment that will work to combat the disease.