Yankee site returned to public use

21 August 2007

Most of the site of the former Yankee nuclear power plant near Rowe, Massachusetts, has been released by regulators for unrestricted public use.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said in a statement that its release action completed the decommissioning of the majority of the site, where the nuclear power plant itself stood. The NRC said that residual radiation dose to anyone at the site would not exceed 25 millirem (0.25 mSv) per year, compared to the natural US background level of 300 millirem (3 mSv) per year.

The Yankee plant was a 185 MWe pressurized water reactor built by Westinghouse between 1957 and 1960. It was then operated by owners Yankee Atomic Electric Company until October 1991. It is now the tenth US nuclear power plant site to be released to the public.

About five acres (2 ha) of the former site is still under NRC regulation. That portion is the dry store of used nuclear fuel which awaits a permanent storage site.

It is currently American policy to develop a permanent geologic storage site for all the nation's used nuclear fuel within Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Detailed development of the facility, which would contain up to 70,000 tonnes of high-level radioactive wastes from power generation, industry and the USA's military nuclear programs, is still underway.

Although Yucca Mountain was originally envisaged to operate from 1998, progress has been rather disappointing and it is now thought that it could begin to accept shipments of used nuclear fuel from sites such as Yankee only in 2017.
 The Office of Civilian RadioactiveWaste Management is preparing documentation on the design of the store to be presented to NRC as part of a licence applicationexpected in June 2008. 

Further information

Yankee Nuclear Power Plant

WNA's Decommissioning Nuclear Facilities information paper