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Connecticut Yankee Nuclear Plant To Close

December 5, 1996

WATERFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The trouble-plagued Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant _ home of the nation’s second-oldest reactor _ will never power up again, a utility’s board of directors decided Wednesday.

The plant had been operating for 29 years, and is licensed to operate until 2007, but its reactor has been shut down for months due to safety concerns, and upgrading it would not be cost-effective, the board decided.

``We are all sorry and disappointed that the plant will not be able to finish its license life,″ said Ted Feigenbaum, chief nuclear officer for Northeast Utilities.

Closing the plant will save about $100 million because the company can buy power at a lower cost than it would take to produce it at the plant, Feigenbaum said. Rates will go down for customers, company officials said, but by how much could not immediately be determined.

The company hopes to move most of the plant’s 322 employees into positions at other nuclear plants, unit director Jere LaPlatney said. About 100 workers will be left there by the end of 1997, he said.

Decommissioning the plant is expected to take at least five years and cost about $400 million. Roughly half of that has been collected, and the company will seek to recover the rest from ratepayers over the next few years.

Northeast Utilities serves 1.6 million customers in Connecticut, western Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The company’s only operating nuclear plant is in Seabrook, N.H.

Connecticut Yankee, a 582-megawatt plant, began commercial operation in January 1968. In October, a company study found it was too costly to keep operating.

The reactor has been shut down for safety problems since July. Summer inspections found that a backup safety system might not work properly in an emergency.

In August, even while it was shut down, a serious nuclear accident could have happened, regulators said, when the water level over the fuel core dropped by about three feet. Operators failed to notice the problem because gauges had been disconnected.

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