Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Station
The Yankee Nuclear Power Station (YNPS) - also known as "Yankee Rowe" - was the third commercial nuclear power plant built in the United States and the first built in New England. The 185-megawatt electric pressurized-water Yankee Rowe plant, located on the Deerfield River in the town of Rowe in western Massachusetts, tight on the border of Readsboro, Vermont, permanently shut down on February 26, 1992, after more than 31 years of producing electricity for New England electric consumers.
According to several sources Yankee Rowe was the first commercial PWR operating in the United States. This view discards the government-sponsored Shippingport Atomic Power Station, which was not built on a commercial basis and relied on several technologies that would not be embraced by the commercial operators. The Dresden Generating Station, a commercial boiling water reactor (BWR), slightly preceded the opening of Yankee Row in 1960. US government sources place the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction at Dresden-1 on 15 October 1959 and the first one at Yankee Row on 19 August 1960. (These dates probably preceded the entering into commercial operation of either plant by several months.)
Construction of the plant was completed in 1960 at a cost of $39 million. The capital cost was $45 million against an estimated cost of $57 million, according to the engineering consultant Kenneth Nichols, who had been deputy to Leslie Groves on the Manhattan Project. During its 32-year operating history, the Yankee plant generated over 34 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, and had a lifetime capacity factor of 74%.
The plant, the first large-scale nuclear unit and the first privately owned pressurized-water plant, was shut down prematurely due to reactor pressure vessel embrittlement concerns, a safety factor now scrutinized in all plants (see ductility).
Yankee Atomic Electric Company (YAEC) was incorporated in Massachusetts in 1954. YAEC was sponsored by ten New England utilities for the purpose of constructing and operating New England's first nuclear power plant, the Yankee Nuclear Power Station. Owners and ownership percentage:
- New England Power Company 34.5%
- The Connecticut Light and Power Company 24.5%
- Boston Edison Company 9.5%
- Central Maine Power Company 9.5%
- Public Service Company of New Hampshire 7.0%
- Western Massachusetts Electric Company 7.0%
- Central Vermont Public Service Corporation 3.5%
- Commonwealth Electric Company 2.5%
- Cambridge Electric Light Company 2.0%
Most of the men and women who worked either in the plant or during the decommissioning efforts referred to the site as "Yankee-Rowe" or simply "Rowe", to avoid confusion with Vermont Yankee, a nuclear power station located in Vernon, Vermont.
In 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission declared the decommissioning of Yankee Rowe complete. While most of the grounds were released as safe, a cask storage facility remained under NRC supervision. 533 spent fuel assemblies (weighing approximately 800 lbs each) are still on-site, contained in dry casks, made of 21 inches of reinforced concrete, surrounding a 3-1/2 inch thick steel liner, with each cask weighing 100 tons. The sixteen casks sit on a 3 foot thick concrete pad. These will be located at the site until the U.S. Department of Energy completes a permanent storage facility for spent nuclear reactor fuel and the spent fuel stored at Rowe can be transferred to such a future federal facility. The time frame for removal of spent fuel from the Yankee Rowe site is unknown.
- Anti-nuclear movement in the United States
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- Nuclear power in the United States
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