Since its closure at Wiscasett, Maine in 1997, the nuclear waste from the Maine Yankee Nuclear Plant remains stored onsite … apparently with no place yet to go and at an annual cost of about $10 million dollars or more today. Armed guards protect the tons of nuclear waste.
It’s now 2022 and removal has not been undertaken although the federal government claims they have taken the first step in an effort to move the nation’s spent nuclear fuel — like the 542 metric tons of nuclear waste at the long-decommissioned Maine Yankee facility in Wiscasset — but a Maine Yankee official said that waste likely isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company located on Bailey Point Peninsula in Wiscasset, Maine is an interim facility for the safe, secure storage of spent nuclear fuel and Greater than Class C waste (GTCC waste is irradiated steel removed from the reactor vessel during plant decommissioning). The facility is staffed seven days a week, 24 hours a day. This will remain the case until the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) fulfills its contractual and statutory obligation under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 to remove this material from the site.
DOE was to have begun removing the spent nuclear fuel and GTCC Waste by January 31, 1998. To date, DOE has not removed any spent nuclear fuel or GTCC waste from the site, and it is unknown when it will. Maine Yankee is seeking monetary damages in litigation against the federal government for its failure to remove the spent nuclear fuel and GTCC waste. In the meantime, it is Maine Yankee’s responsibility to store the spent nuclear fuel and GTCC waste in accordance with its U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license and all applicable regulations.
From 1972 until permanent shutdown in 1997, Maine Yankee operated a 900 megawatt pressurized water reactor at the Wiscasset site. The nuclear power plant underwent a successful decommissioning from 1997-2005 with all plant structures removed to three feet below grade and the site restored to stringent clean-up standards. See more under Decommissioning Overview.
The plant’s spent nuclear fuel as well as its GTCC waste is stored in dry cask storage units at Maine Yankee’s Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI). The ISFSI was constructed during the decommissioning project.
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