Nuclear Reactor Headed to South Carolina
December 9, 2003
Conn.-- Officials at the decommissioned Connecticut Yankee nuclear power
plant plan to ship a 31-foot high, 820-ton reactor vessel to South Carolina.
The vessel, at one time, held highly radioactive nuclear fuel rods used
to make electricity, will be placed on a barge and brought down the Connecticut
River to Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean in a voyage expected
to take approximately 10 days.
The reactor vessel will be encased in concrete and steel to protect people
and the environment from radiation. The Coast Guard will accompany the
barge on the first leg of the journey, and the state Department of Environmental
Protection will make sure the vessel is securely attached to the barge.
It's destination is to the Chem Nuclear low-level radioactive waste disposal
site near Barnwell, South Carolina.
"This represents one of the most radioactive components left at the
site, with the exception of the spent fuel.Once you can remove that you
can proceed with a lot of the decommissioning work," said Neil Sheehan,
a spokesman for the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
reactor vessel was completed in 1968 and helped produce more than 110
billion kilowatt hours of electricity over 28 years. The radioactive isotopes
are expected to fully decay in 300 years.
Yankee spokeswoman, Kelley Smith, said that the public will not be exposed
to unsafe radiation levels during the trip to South Carolina.
A security detail will not accompany the transport barge, because Connecticut
Yankee does not consider the vessel a target for terrorism, Smith said.
She said it is not in a form that would be useful to terrorists.
"The removal and shipment of the reactor vessel is one of the more
important decommissioning milestones because it provides us unfettered
access to the containment dome to conduct a radiological cleanup that
will prepare the dome for eventual demolition," Smith said.
Federal authorities have approved a transportation plan for the reactor
vessel that includes safe harbor ports as a contingency for severe weather
or loss of backup radio communication.
Antinuclear activists said the packaged reactor vessel remains a threat
to the health and safety of the population of Barnwell, S.C.