Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant

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Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant
Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.jpg
Maine Yankee nuclear power plant
CountryUnited States
LocationWiscasset, Lincoln County, Maine
Coordinates43°57′2″N 69°41′45″W / 43.95056°N 69.69583°W / 43.95056; -69.69583Coordinates: 43°57′2″N 69°41′45″W / 43.95056°N 69.69583°W / 43.95056; -69.69583
Construction beganOctober 1, 1968
Commission dateDecember 28, 1972
Decommission dateAugust 1, 1997
Construction cost$231 million (1972 USD)
Operator(s)Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company
Nuclear power station
Reactor typePWR
Reactor supplierCombustion Engineering
Asea Brown Boveri
Cooling sourceBack River
Power generation
Make and modelCE/ABB 3-loop design
Units decommissioned1 × 860 MW
Thermal capacity1 × 2630 MWth (decommissioned)
Capacity factor68.2% (lifetime)

Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant was a nuclear power plant built at an 820-acre site on Bailey Peninsula of Wiscasset, Maine, in the United States. It ran from 1972 until 1996, when safety and other problems at the plant became too expensive to fix.[1] It was finally decommissioned and dismantled between 1997 and 2005, though some of the plant's nuclear waste is still stored on site, pending final disposal.


The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company formed in 1966, when plans for a pressurized water reactor in Wiscasset, Maine were made. The four-year $231 million (approx $1.6 billion in 2012 dollars) construction of the plant began in 1968 and ended in 1972 when commercial operation of the plant began. Originally, Maine Yankee Power Co. had a 40-year license to run the plant. Over its 25 years as Maine's sole operating nuclear power plant, the power station produced much of Maine's power. Maine Yankee's most productive year came in 1989 when its production reached 6,900 gigawatt-hours of electricity. From 1972 through 1996 the 900 megawatt reactor produced about 119 terawatt-hours of electricity.[2]


Initial opposition for constructing the plant was led by: Citizens for Safe Power,the Audubon Naturalist Council, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Maine’s Governor Kenneth M. Curtis, in the form of a petition to the Atomic Energy Commission, asking for the suspension of the plants operating license due to the concern with environmental and safety issues.[3] The group failed to stop construction but succeeded in persuading the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to impose stricter environmental standards and monitoring. After the malfunction of the Three Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania, two concerned citizens of Wiscasset, Raymond and Patricia Shadis,led a 1,000 participant march to the capital of Maine to propose a statewide anti nuclear petition.[3] The initiative to eliminate nuclear power in Maine was voted on several times between 1982 and 1987, however it failed to get the needed support each time.[3] Finally in 1987, after narrowly missing a vote to shut down the power plant, the Nuclear Regulatory Committee (NRC), decided to investigate the power plant for safety violations.[3] Due to violations found in 1996, the plant underwent decommissioning and is now no longer in working order.[3]


A lengthy Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigation started in 1995, following allegations of safety problems at the plant. The NRC staff identified so many problems that Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co. decided "it would be too costly to correct these deficiences to the extent required by the NRC and decided to shut the plant down".[1]

The eight-year $500 million decommissioning process spanned from 1997 until 2005.[4] In 2000, the first structures were gutted out by workers. In 2003, the reactor pressure vessel was shipped to Barnwell, South Carolina via barge. Finally, in 2004, the facility's containment building was brought down by explosives.

As of 2010, questions remained about the final disposal of the plant's nuclear waste, following the scrapping of the planned national depository.[5]


  1. ^ a b Stephanie Cooke (2009). In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, Black Inc., p. 301.
  2. ^ Maine Yankee website
  3. ^ a b c d e Bisgaard-Church, Eliana (25 September 2011). "Citizens protest against MaineYankee Nuclear Power Plant, Wiscasset, Maine, 1979-87". Global Nonviolent Action Database.
  4. ^ report on plant history[unreliable source?]
  5. ^ Portland Press-Herald story, Aug. 2010: "Panel Looking at Maine Yankee's waste" Archived 2011-03-20 at the Wayback Machine.

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