CSC: DO 265 Opinion

DOCKET NO. 265 - Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc. application to modify an existing electric generating facility (Millstone Power Station) to establish an independent spent fuel storage installation on property located off Rope Ferry Road, Waterford, Connecticut.








May 27, 2004



On August 25, 2003, Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc. (Dominion), applied for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibilty and Public Need (Certificate) to modify an existing electric generating facility, the Millstone Power Station, to establish an independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) on property located off Rope Ferry Road, Waterford, Connecticut.

Dominion is licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the operation and maintenance of three nuclear-fueled electric generating units at Millstone Power Station. Presently, Dominion operates Unit 2 (870 MW output) and Unit 3 (1,150 MW output) with scheduled license expirations of 2015 and 2025, respectively. Unit 1 is no longer operating. Spent fuel now is stored in a separate water-filled pool (wet storage) for each unit. Prudent industry practice is to reserve space in the spent fuel pool for a full reactor core offload for refueling, maintenance, or contingency event. Dominion will lose its full core reserve in 2005 for Unit 2 and 2020 for Unit 3. Dominion proposes to move spent fuel five years of age or older into steel canisters and for storage in concrete horizontal storage modules (HSM), also known as dry cask storage.

Under Section 16-50p of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS), the Council in deciding this application must consider and balance the public need for the proposed ISFSI with the probable environmental impacts created by construction and operation of this facility. The Council may not grant a Certificate if it finds insufficient need for the facilities, unmitigated effects to the environment, undue health effects, and/or is in conflict with State policies.

Scope of Jurisdiction

The NRC has regulations allowing licensed electric generating power reactors to use a dry storage system contingent that the spent fuel from each reactor be stored at the reactor site. Also, the NRC established regulations for the type of dry storage systems to be installed and the siting of an ISFSI. Currently, nuclear commercial reactors such as Prairie Island in Minnesota, Point Beach in Wisconsin, and North Anna and Surrey, both in Virginia, operate spent fuel dry-storage systems.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 assigned the Department of Energy (DOE) as the federal agency to establish, construct, and operate a national repository for spent nuclear fuel. Also, DOE is contractually obligated to take ownership of spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors. At present, there is no national disposal site; however, DOE is preparing a license application for a spent nuclear fuel storage site, Yucca Mountain, in the State of Nevada. This site has been under scrutiny for decades and milestones for operations have been missed. While this would be the first choice to dispose of spent nuclear fuel, the NRCís decision to license Yucca Mountain as the national repository for spent nuclear fuel, and the timing to accept spent nuclear fuel for storage by year 2010 is speculative at best. Nonetheless, Dominion believes that Yucca Mountain will eventually be placed into operation. Regardless of the debate over Yucca Mountain, Dominion has decided on a plan of action that is supported by NRC regulations and this Council agrees the proposed ISFSI is an appropriate method for storing spent nuclear fuel.

Need and Reliability

Millstone Power Station is an important electric generating resource to the State and New England. Millstone Power Station represents approximately 28 percent of installed capacity and provides approximately 47 percent of Connecticutís actual generation of electricity. Pursuant to CGS Section 16-50r, this Council is cognizant of electric generating resources and the Stateís demand for electricity. Millstone Power Station is not only a reliable base load generator of electricity that anchors Connecticutís and even New Englandís electric transmission grid, Millstone Power Station also represents a near-zero emissions source unlike fossil-fueled electric generating facilities. Furthermore, Dominion is committed to keeping Millstone Power Station a viable electric generating resource to the end of its current license period and beyond. Consequently, Dominion filed an application recently with the NRC for license renewal. If license renewal is granted, Unit 2 and Unit 3 would be allowed to operate until 2035 and 2045, respectively. Therefore, the Council will require Dominion to notify the Council and Town of Waterford of NRCís decision of the license renewal application.

Spent Fuel Management Alternatives

The State needs to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of alternatives and pursue cost-effective strategies that resolve our problems without overbuilding or underbuilding infrastructure. Alternatives to spent fuel management included a "no build" (or lack of action) analysis, shipment and storage of spent nuclear fuel to a national repository, reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, modification of the capacity of existing spent fuel pools, inter-unit transfer of spent fuel from Unit 2 to Unit 3 spent fuel pool, transfer of spent fuel to other NRC-licensed nuclear reactor facility spent fuel storage areas, construction of a new spent fuel pool, and installation of dry storage either above ground, with and without a berm, or below ground.

The Council believes that the "no build" alternative is an imprudent solution and sees no reason to jeopardize the continued operations of the Millstone Power Station. Likewise, shipment and storage to a national repository or the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel are not available options. Dominion has modified existing capacity of the spent fuel pools, and no additional measures are available which increase the spent fuel storage in them.

The inter-unit transfer of spent fuel from Unit 2 to Unit 3 spent fuel pool is a feasible technique for storing spent fuel. This would require placing Unit 2 spent fuel in a dry shield canister, like that for dry storage in a concrete storage module, to be transported and unloaded into Unit 3ís spent fuel pool. This process requires a license amendment to be approved by the NRC, requires handling of the spent fuel more than once, and diminishes Unit 3ís full core reserve capability. The proposed dry storage system is a solution to these difficulties.

NRC regulations require spent nuclear fuel created on-site remains on-site in which it is produced. However, transfer of spent fuel to another NRC-licensed nuclear reactor facility storage area may occur only if ordered by the NRC. Presently, Dominion is not aware of any nuclear reactorís spent fuel stored at another nuclear reactorís spent fuel storage facility. This Council agrees with such NRC regulations and the Council will order only Millstone Power Station spent fuel is store on-site.

The option of constructing another spent fuel pool does not offer the advantages that a dry-storage system can offer. Spent fuel pools require mechanical methods and personnel to maintain such facilities; by contrast dry-storage systems are passive and require minimal monitoring.

During the evidentiary hearing the Attorney General cited State Statute that requires that burial of nuclear waste requires the legislatureís approval. This application did not propose burying spent nuclear fuel. There was also discussion of an earth berm around the ISFSI. The berm, as described by the applicant, would be 92 feet wide at the base and 22 feet high creating a protective perimeter also known as a hardened on-site storage system (HOSS). While this berm would be an added security and visual buffer, the proposed site would be significantly larger, affect an adjacent inland wetland, and may displace the preferred site. Lastly, a dry-storage system installed at ground level is a proven technology and is allowed by the NRC. For the above-stated reasons the Council concludes that a dry-storage system as proposed provides for Dominionís needs.

This application is primarily driven by Unit 2ís need of spent fuel storage. The applicant had initially approached the Town of Waterford for a total of 234 HSMs which would accommodate, including license renewal, all of Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3 spent nuclear fuel in dry storage. Dominion amended its application in consultation with the Town of Waterford to place 85 HSMs for the continued operation of Unit 2 and Unit 3 till the end of the renewed licensed period plus a contingency to remove all of Unit 1 spent fuel into dry storage equal to 50 HSMs, for a total of 135 HSMs. The Town of Waterford determined and ordered that Dominion install 19 HSMs to support Unit 2 until its current license expires in 2015 and until more is known about Yucca Mountain. This Council has analyzed and carefully considered the construction of the ISFSI and operational need for Millstone Power Station and concluded 49 HSMs is reasonable to allow for storage of Unit 2 and Unit 3 spent fuel to approximately year 2025. This allows for the continued operation of Unit 2 until 2015 and Unit 3 until 2025 under current licenses; allows for flexibility if the license renewal application is granted by the NRC; and allows for a prudent planning horizon and implementation for a national repository (Yucca Mountain).

Proposed Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI)

Dominion considered four locations to site the ISFSI and determined the proposed location is preferred because it is the farthest from residential areas and closest to the existing protected area allowing for a simple expansion of the protected area fence that would provide for optimum security. The proposed site offers a location that is in proximity to Unit 2 and Unit 3 for the hauling of spent fuel to the ISFSI. The other sites would require a longer reinforced haul road and a new security fence separate of the existing protected area security fence. However, the proposed site is constrained by existing Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3 overhead transmission lines connecting the generating units to a substation north of the proposed ISFSI site. Construction and spent fuel transfer activity are allowed under the non-energized Unit 1ís transmission line. Other construction activities would be limited beneath the energized Units 2 and 3 transmission lines to equipment storage. This constraint is not so significant as to consider denying the preferred ISFSI site.

The ISFSI consists of concrete foundations capable of supporting heavy, reinforced concrete HSMs that stand 22 feet high by 8.5 feet wide and 20 feet long. The spent nuclear fuel would be contained within a stainless steel container which is stored in the HSM. Both the container and the HSM have a robust design and are certified for a twenty-year life. The protocol for the initial loading and transferring of the stainless steel container is overseen by the NRC. The 49 HSMs, with its four-foot thick shield wall back, would be aligned side by side and back to back. This configuration is beneficial for the shielding of low-level ionizing radiation. Therefore, the Council will order that the first set of HSMs be installed along the east side of the site with the HSM door facing the Millstone Power Station to act as a shield to future HSMs placed closer to the existing facility.


The existing Millstone Power Station complex represents 49 acres within a 520 acre parcel of property. The three nuclear reactors, spent fuel pools and ancillary facilities comprise the area within the protected area. The heavily developed site is a former quarry, situated adjacent to Jordan Cove and Niantic Bay of Long Island Sound. While the proposed two-acre ISFSI site is in the coastal zone management area, it is located outside the 500 year flood zone. The nearest residential area is approximately 1,700 feet east of the proposed ISFSI site buffered by open space. The ISFSI Site, Equipment Laydown Area and the area in which soil would be placed during construction (Soil Placement Area) are located outside the limits of existing tidal and inland wetlands and watercourses on the property. Because the proposed ISFSI site is on an existing parking area no vegetation would be cleared but grading and storm water drainage improvements would be required. Storm water drainage improvements entail reconstruction of a drainage outfall located 150 east of the ISFSI site. Storm water will drain into an inland wetland and pond proximate to this drainage outfall and impacts to this inland wetland and pond is not expected to be significant with proper erosion and sediment controls. Consequently, the applicant shall provide an erosion and sediment control plan consistent with the 2002 Connecticut Guidelines for Erosion and Sediment Control. No storm water drainage improvements are proposed or necessary in the Soil Placement Area. Furthermore, prior to discharge of storm water, DNC would seek to amend its current National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and General Permit for the Discharge of Storm water Associated with Industrial Activity with the DEP.

Groundwater is approximately 7 feet below finished surface grade. Site preparation would consist of retaining walls, gravel fill, drainage structures and four foot thick concrete foundations for the HSMs. Disturbance of the groundwater table would be minimal; however, the HSM foundations would not be in contact with the groundwater. Because groundwater is proximate to the infrastructure, the Council will order groundwater monitoring wells, one up gradient and two down gradient.

Various design configurations were explored throughout the proceeding. Consideration of phasing construction of the ISFSI could limit ground disturbance on an as needed basis. To phase construction of the infrastructure would require movement of the security fence more than once which would complicate coordination of security. Nonetheless, development of the infrastructure for the proposed 135 HSMs and moving the security fence once is a reasonable course of action. The Council will authorize development of the infrastructure to accommodate up to 135 HSMs, move the security fence one time, and limit the number of concrete foundations to support 49 HSMs.

The Council has determined that no endangered, threatened, or special concern species will be affected by the proposed ISFSI site, and that no historic or archaeological resources would be affected by the proposed facility.

Public Health and Safety

Radiological safety at commercial nuclear power stations across the country is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the NRC. Millstone Power Station has more than one NRC inspector on site at all times. In addition, the State, like every state, has an assigned NRC State Liaison Officer to communicate any State concerns and viewpoints to NRC staff. Also, the Council notes that state agencies may not regulate the dry storage activities authorized by the NRC relative to radiological health and safety or undermine NRC decisions related to the storage of spent nuclear fuel.

Pursuant to NRC regulations, prudent security measures are reviewed and updated periodically. Since the events of September 11, 2001, the NRC evaluated and placed additional orders to general licensees to increase on-site security, especially those reactor sites with dry storage installations. Dominion and the State of Connecticut, including DEP, coordinate response and/or recovery scenarios. The Office of Emergency Management has the primary role as the agency that deals with response and/or recovery from any state-wide emergency. The Division of Homeland Security provided testimony and provides a global perspective of prevention, protection, deterrents, along with preparedness, response, and recovery. While the Council is confident of on-site security and comfortable with the layers of oversight, the Council will order continued coordination between Dominion, the NRC, the DEP, Division of Homeland Security, and the Office of Emergency Management.

Municipal Orders and Appeals

As part of the local input process, the Town of Waterford issued regulate and restrict orders pursuant to General Statutes ß 16-50x (d). Subsequent to Dominion filing the application, Dominion submitted an appeal to the Townís regulate and restrict orders. The Council acknowledges that the existing spent fuel pools are the designated storage area for spent fuel, that Millstone Power Station is not a permanent storage site, that the need for temporary storage will maintain capability of full core reactor off load, that the temporary dry cask storage will be restricted to waste generated on site, that the temporary dry cask storage will be removed from the site prior to or as part of the plant decommissioning, that the temporary use will not preclude the future use of the facility for business, water dependent or industrial use(s) as permitted in the Zoning Regulations of the Town of Waterford; and that a written report on the status of construction, module installation, continued need, changes in plans for off-site disposal and other changes impacting the duration of the storage be provided to the Town of Waterford and Council. The other regulate and restrict orders concern the quantity of HSMs, size of foundation, limiting only Unit 2 waste to be stored and contingent to an anticipated operational date of the federal repository at Yucca Mountain in 2010, that the HSMs be restricted to the western edge of the proposed pad in proximity to the existing structure, and treatment of the existing perimeter security fence will be modified by this Council.

Conclusions and Orders

In accordance with CGS Section 22a-19 and the findings of fact, the Council finds that the proposal would not cause unreasonable pollution, impairment or destruction of the public trust in the air, water or other natural resources of the state, and that the Council has considered all reasonable alternatives and that the approval of the application with the restrictions and conditions that would be required by the Council for approval, represents the best alternative consistent with the reasonable requirements of the public health, safety, and welfare.

For the above -stated reasons the Council will issue a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction of the proposed ISFSI at Millstone Power Station with the following conditions:

    1. The existing spent fuel pools shall become the designated storage area for spent fuel.

    2. That Millstone Power Station is not a permanent nuclear spent fuel storage site.

    3. That the Certificate Holder move the spent fuel to a national repository as soon as legally possible and the transfer or sale to any other nuclear power station of any waste schedule allocations granted to the Certificate Holder by the Department of Energy for Millstone Power Station-generated waste is prohibited unless needed to move spent nuclear fuel to a national repository earlier.

    4. That the need for temporary storage will maintain capability of full core reactor off load.

    5. That the temporary dry cask storage will be removed from the site prior to or as part of the plant decommissioning subject to DOE acceptance.

    6. That the temporary use will not preclude the future use of the facility for business, water dependent or industrial use(s) as permitted in the Zoning Regulations of the Town of Waterford.

    7. Certificate Holder shall notify the Council and Town of Waterford of the Nuclear Regulatory Commissionís decision to the license renewal application for Unit 2 and Unit 3. If license renewal is granted by the NRC, the Certificate Holder may petition the Council for additional horizontal storage modules (HSMs).

    8. Only Millstone Power Station (Units 1, 2, and 3) spent nuclear fuel will be stored in the ISFSI.

    9. If federal preemption orders the Certificate Holder to accept nuclear waste and revenue is generated, such revenue net of costs shall be collected by the State as a storage fee.

    10. Only NRC-certified dry storage systems would be installed, including incorporation of advancements in dry storage technology, as applicable to Millstone Power Station spent fuel management.

    11. That a periodic construction report be submitted to the Council and the Town of Waterford on the status of construction, module installation, delivery of horizontal storage modules, site rehabilitation and notification of construction completion.

    12. Submittal of annual reports on the status of Millstone Power Stationís operations, including loading activities; information on the necessity to expand the ISFSI; the status of the federal repository; and a 5-year projection of Millstone Power Stationís anticipated spent fuel storage requirements to the Council and the Town.

    13. Three groundwater monitoring wells, one up gradient and two down gradient from the ISFSI Site shall be installed, and results provided in the annual report.

    14. Copies of the amended National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and General Permit for the Discharge of Storm water Associated with Industrial Activity for the proposed ISFSI shall be filed with the Council and Town of Waterford.

    15. The Certificate Holder shall complete all infrastructure work for 135 HSMs, including without limitation, site clearing, regrading and preparation, backfilling to address structural and seismic considerations, construction of a haul road, installation of permanent storm water drainage improvements and placement of underground utilities; relocate the perimeter Protected Area fence one time to surround the entire 2-acre ISFSI Site and 4-acre Equipment Laydown Area; and install a concrete pad large enough to accommodate 49 HSMs and the HSMs shall be installed in numeric order as identified in the record starting along the east side.

    16. The Certificate Holder shall prepare a Development and Management (D&M) Plan for this site, submitted to and approved by the Council, prior to the commencement of facility construction and shall include provisions for detailed site plans identifying security fence, retaining walls, subsurface work, drainage control, gravel areas, concrete foundations for horizontal storage modules, concrete aprons, haul access road structure locations, and an erosion and sediment control plan consistent with the 2002 Connecticut Guidelines for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control.

Content Last Modified on 6/4/2004 3:23:10 PM