Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant

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Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant
Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant - Aerial View 001.jpg
Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant is located in Michigan
Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant
Location of Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant
CountryUnited States
LocationHayes Township, Charlevoix County, near Charlevoix, Michigan
Coordinates45°21′32″N 85°11′50″W / 45.35889°N 85.19722°W / 45.35889; -85.19722Coordinates: 45°21′32″N 85°11′50″W / 45.35889°N 85.19722°W / 45.35889; -85.19722
Construction began1954–1962
Commission dateMarch 29, 1963
Decommission dateAugust 29, 1997
Operator(s)Consumers Power
Nuclear power station
Reactor typeBWR
Reactor supplierGeneral Electric
Power generation
Units decommissioned1 × 67 MW

Big Rock Point was a nuclear power plant near Charlevoix, Michigan, United States. Big Rock operated from 1962 to 1997. It was owned and operated by Consumers Power, now known as Consumers Energy. Its boiling water reactor was made by General Electric (GE) and was capable of producing 67 megawatts of electricity. Bechtel Corporation was the primary contractor.


Big Rock was Michigan's first nuclear power plant and the nation's fifth. It also produced cobalt-60 for the medical industry from 1971 to 1982.

Ground was broken on July 20, 1960. Construction was completed in 29 months at a cost of $27.7 million. Its license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was issued on August 29, 1962. The reactor first went critical on September 27 and the first electricity was generated on December 8, 1962.

A promotional video for the plant featured then GE spokesman Ronald Reagan.

Facts and figures[edit]

  • Reactor vessel dimensions: 30 feet (9.1 m) tall x 9 feet (2.7 m) in diameter
  • Thickness of rector vessel walls: 5½ inches
  • A single 10-ton load of uranium nuclear fuel in Big Rock's reactor could generate the same amount of electricity as 260,000 tons of coal.
  • The stack that once stood behind the main generator of the plant was used as a navigational landmark to let boaters aboard freighters have a visual landmark to Charlevoix Michigan.

Closure and decommissioning[edit]

Consumers Energy had previously announced that Big Rock Point's operating license would not be renewed when it expired on May 31, 2000. However, economics proved in January 1997 that it was not feasible to keep Big Rock Point running to the license's expiration date.

The reactor was scrammed for the last time on at 10:33 a.m. EDT on August 29, 1997, 35 years to the day after its license had been issued. The last fuel was removed from the core on September 20. Decontamination was completed in 1999.

Because of its contributions to the nuclear and medical industries, the American Nuclear Society named Big Rock Point a Nuclear Historic Landmark.

The 235,000-pound (107,000 kg) reactor vessel was removed on August 25, 2003 and shipped to Barnwell, South Carolina on October 7, 2003.

All of Big Rock Point's 500-acre (200 ha) area has been torn down. Other than eight spent fuel casks, there are no signs that the site was home to a nuclear power plant.

Decommissioning costs totaled $390,000,000.

Reuse of property[edit]

In July 2006, the state of Michigan announced it was considering buying the site, which features a mile of Lake Michigan shoreline, for a possible state park.[1]

As part of the sale of Consumers' Palisades Nuclear Plant, the new owner Entergy accepted the responsibility for a basketball court size piece of property at Big Rock containing that plant's eight casks of spent fuel.[2]


  • "NRC: Big Rock Point". Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Retrieved 23 April 2006.
  • "Big Rock Point Decommissioning" (PDF). Consumers Energy. Retrieved 23 April 2006.
  • "Nation's Longest Operating Nuclear Plant, Consumers Energy's Big Rock Point, Permanently Ceases Operation". Consumers Energy. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 23 April 2006.
  • Tompkins, Betsy (2006). "Big Rock Point: From groundbreaking to greenfield" (PDF). Nuclear New. American Nuclear Society. Retrieved 26 July 2008.

External links[edit]