Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant

Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant
Location of Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Maine
Country United States
Location Wiscasset, Maine
Coordinates 43°57′6.33″N 69°41′46.42″W / 43.9517583°N 69.6962278°W / 43.9517583; -69.6962278Coordinates: 43°57′6.33″N 69°41′46.42″W / 43.9517583°N 69.6962278°W / 43.9517583; -69.6962278
Status Permanent Shutdown
Commission date December 28, 1972[1]
Decommission date August 1, 1997
Operator(s) Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company
Nuclear power station
Reactor type PWR
Power generation
Units operational 1
Units decommissioned 900
Nameplate capacity 900 MWe
Average generation 4,748 GWh

Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant was a nuclear power plant built 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.[2] 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.[3]


Initial opposition to constructing the plant was led by Citizens for Safe Power, from 1967 through 1972;[4] the group failed to stop construction but succeeded in persuading the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to impose stricter environmental standards and monitoring. In 1980[5] and 1982, two attempts by referendum to close the plant were defeated, as was a third referendum in 1987.


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".[2]

The eight-year $500 million decommissioning process spanned from 1997 until 2005.[6] 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.[7]


  1. "MAINE YANKEE Reactor Details". IAEA. 2013-04-13. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
  2. 1 2 Stephanie Cooke (2009). In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, Black Inc., p. 301.
  3. Maine Yankee website
  4. Maine History article
  5. Mark Melnicove, Vote Yes on September 23rd for a Nuclear-Free Maine, An Anthology by Maine Artists, The Dog Ear Press, Hulls Cove, Maine, 1980
  6. report on plant history
  7. Portland Press-Herald story, Aug. 2010: "Panel Looking at Maine Yankee's waste"
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