New England Survives Without Nuclear Power

by on April 17, 2020 · 0 comments

in Environment

Nuclear Shutdown News April 2020

By Michael Steinberg

Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of the US nuclear industry, in the US and beyond, and highlights the efforts of those working for a nuclear free world.

New England Survives Without Nuclear Power

On April 3 the Connecticut Mirror reported “Most New England nuclear power offline due to timing fluke problem.” There are only two nuke plants still (sometimes) operating in the region, Seabrook in New Hampshire with one reactor and Millstone in Connecticut with two.

On March 31 the 1245 Megawatt shut down for refueling. The next day the 1230 Unit 3 reactor at Millstone had a mishap that forced it to shut down as well.

As a result, by April 3, the Mirror reported, the grid showed nuclear at 8% and natural gas (usually derived with fracking) at a whopping 68%. Nuclear usually contributed a third of the electricity to the grid. So at this time New England was without 75% of its nuclear power. Only the 45 year old Millstone 2 reactor was still going. Nuclear reactors are designed to last only 40 years.

Refueling involves shutting down a reactor to swap out old nuclear fuel and replacing it with new, as well as doing required maintenance. This typically takes a month or more and is required every year and a half or two. Millstone 3’s refueling is set for next October. During refueling 1000 or more are added to the workforce. Millstone’s usual workforce is 6-700.

The Mirror reported that , due to the coronavirus threat, some staff are working at home. Those still on site are having their temperatures taken when they arrive and leave work. Six foot sections on plant floors are marked off to encourage some social distancing on the job.

Power Magazine reported last month that the nuclear industry is asking the Department of Energy  to designate refueling workers as “essential.” It also wants refueling workers from other countries allowed in, and hotels and restaurants kept open to house and feed them. In addition, it wants priority for safety items such as surgeons gloves and virus test kits.

Sources: Connecticut Mirror,; Power Magazine,

Virus Takes Down UK Nuke Facility

On March 19 the Guardian UK reported “Sellafield nuclear site to close due to coronavirus.”

Sellafield is a nuclear facility in Wales operated by Magnavox since 1964. There “spent fuel” is “reprocessed.” The nuclear fuel is no longer good enough to power nuclear reactors. But its uranium and plutonium can still be extracted and then made into new viable nuclear fuel–or nuclear weapons. In the process lots of nuclear waste is released into the environment.

The Guardian reported, the “plant will begin a controlled shutdown after 8% of the staff is self isolating to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Cambria (Wales.)”

Magnavox “revealed that a staff member had tested positive for the virus and another worker suspected of having the disease is in quarantine.”  Sellafield’s total workforce is 11,000.

The Guardian also reported that the number in quarantine included those in isolation as well as those with underlying health problems undergoing social distancing. Sellafield already is slated for permanent shutdown later this year. In the meantime the remainder of the workforce will either be working from home, or, Magnavox said, “Given the nature of your work, you will need to continue to attend your workplace.” Source:



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