NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) — State officials authorized the Millstone nuclear plant on Thursday to significantly expand nuclear waste storage capacity over the next 30 years.
Without a national site to take spent nuclear fuel, Millstone Power Station's owner, Dominion Resources Inc., turned to Connecticut for permission to increase storage at the Waterford site.
The nine-member council voted unanimously without discussion to allow Millstone to build concrete pads necessary for an expansion of its waste storage. Millstone is seeking to expand storage from 19 cask storage units now to 135 by 2045. However, Millstone's application does not include a request to install the 135 casks, the Siting Council said.
Melanie Bachman, staff attorney for the council, said Millstone has authorization to install 49 casks and must seek permission for the remaining 86.
Ken Holt, Millstone's spokesman, said the state's permission to build the pads gives Dominion flexibility in planning long-term storage requirements.
The key problem facing nuclear plant operators and public officials is the inability in Washington to decide what to do with radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants. Congress designated Yucca Mountain in Nevada for a nuclear waste dump, but the plan has been opposed by the state's elected officials, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
In the meantime, spent nuclear fuel is stored on site at the nation's 104 nuclear reactors in pools or in dry casks.
Local storage is Millstone's only option, Holt said.
"It's not our first choice," he said. "But unfortunately, the federal government has not lived up to its obligation to take the fuel like they were supposed to."
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Policy criticized federal inaction on nuclear waste.
"Nuclear waste is a federal problem and needs an immediate federal solution," the agency said in comments to the Siting Council.