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While the U.S. looks for space for nuclear waste, how is Connecticut’s stored?

LtoR - Dr Kathryn Huff, Department of Energy, Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney and Dr Kim Petry, Department of Energy address round table attendees..jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
From left to right: Assistant Energy Secretary Dr. Kathryn Huff, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Dr. Kim Petry with the Department of Energy, address roundtable attendees.

Assistant Energy Secretary Kathryn Huff visited Waterford, Connecticut, on Tuesday to discuss the federal plan for storing nuclear waste from Millstone Nuclear Power Station and other power stations across the U.S.

Waterford First Selectman Rob Brule told Huff that although the storage of nuclear waste at the power station isn’t ideal, it is safe there.

“We grew up here in this town. We saw it built. And we said 'OK you can do it' and the arrangement was there was not going to be interim storage needed and the waste would be taken away,” Brule said. “That was naïve at the time but now we’re at a point where we can do a lot more for the environment. This could be a win-win if interim storage is really done right.”

The U.S. Department of Energy is reviewing how to re-site nuclear waste in willing towns and cities while a permanent national storage location is found.

At one time Connecticut had four operating nuclear power plants, Connecticut Yankee and Millstone Units 1, 2, and 3.

According to a 2011 state report, spent nuclear fuel from Connecticut Yankee, which has been decommissioned, “is stored in dry casks built of concrete and steel on a site located near the site of the former plant. Spent fuel from Millstone Unit 1, which is being decommissioned, and Unit 3 is stored in pools located at the plants. Spent fuel from Unit 2 is initially stored in its spent fuel pool and then in dry casks.”

In 2002, Yucca Mountain in Nevada was approved to be the nation’s Nuclear Waste Repository but years of opposition and funding issues stalled the project. Last year, the Biden administration said it would no longer use Yucca Mountain for nuclear waste disposal.

Tuesday’s roundtable was held by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) in Waterford because it is home to the only remaining nuclear power station in the state.

Courtney said it's time to relieve the town of locally stockpiled nuclear waste.

“You know when you talk about Waterford in terms of its coastal proximity, you talk about Haddam Neck with a high-water table,” he said. “Those are just not appropriate sites for, they were appropriate for water cooling, you know the facilities but not for permanent storage.”

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.