Powering Long Island
Introduction & History of the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant
Select from the options below for a detailed timeline of the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant
- Three Mile Island and Chernobyl
- Shoreham Deemed “Safe”
- License Termination Activities
- America’s First “Stillborn Reactor”
- The Next Chapter
LIPA’s enabling statute charged the Authority with decommissioning the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant built by the former Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO), and investigating and developing alternative uses for the Shoreham site.
The LIPA Act also emphatically states that the Authority shall NOT construct or operate a nuclear powered facility in the service area.
In April, 2008, LIPA formed this Shoreham Advisory Committee to openly and carefully evaluate what opportunities, if any, may exist for the future use and redevelopment of the approximate 58 acres of land owned by LIPA surrounding and including the decommissioned nuclear power plant.
In establishing this working group, LIPA can ensure a transparent, thoughtful process that embraces vital local input. It includes individuals representing the community, academia, and government; meeting periodically to collectively study and assess ways the property may be utilized.
On April 25, 1965 LILCO announced its decision to build a 500MW nuclear power plant, referring to nuclear power as cheap, safe and reliable. At the time, the demand for electricity was increasing more than 10% per year on Long Island and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was strongly urging power companies to use nuclear power.
- May 24, 1968 - LILCO announced the filing of an application with the AEC for a construction permit to begin building the Shoreham plant.
In 1968, LILCO enlarged its plans for Shoreham from 540 to 820 MW, equaling four times more generating capacity. This decision caused a year’s delay in the planning stage and a postponement in filing the Shoreham application for a construction permit until May, 1969. It also increased the cost estimate for construction of the plant from $70 million to $217 million. This was the first of many increases over the next 15 years.
LILCO also announced plans for two more reactors to be built in Jamesport and Lloyd Harbor.
In 1970, residents rallied to kill the Lloyd Harbor plans, and Jamesport never progressed beyond the drawing board stage, but it helped to delay the process and increase the costs of Shoreham. In 1973, construction on the Shoreham plant began. Cost overruns escalated estimated construction costs to $2 billion by the late 1970s due in part to design changes ordered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
- 1979 - The new target date for commercial operation.
Three Mile Island and Chernobyl
In 1979, the accident at Three Mile Island occurred and in 1986, Chernobyl . This triggered major changes in NRC requirements and practices and had a profound impact on the licensing of the Shoreham plant, particularly with respect to planning for emergencies.
In the wake of these nuclear accidents, the NRC ruled that operators of nuclear plants work out evacuation plans in cooperation with state and local governments. Elected officials from local entities nearly unanimously joined the opposition, saying their communities could not be evacuated quickly in the event of an accident.
Shoreham Deemed “Safe”
- In 1981, the NRC declared Shoreham safe for operation.
On February 17, 1983, the Suffolk County Legislature passed a resolution by a 15-1 vote asserting that the county could not be safely evacuated. The newly-elected Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, ordered state officials not to approve any LILCO-sponsored evacuation plan.
- In 1985, LILCO received federal permission for low-power 5% tests.
The Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant operated intermittently over a period of two years, resulting in approximately two full power days by the time of its shutdown in June, 1989. On Feb. 28, 1989, after more than two years of negotiations and aborted deals, Governor Cuomo and LILCO Chairman William J. Catacosinos signed off on an agreement that would shutter the plant forever but that made ratepayers shoulder the responsibility for most of its costs.
Decommissioning: Initial Activities
In June 28, 1989, LILCO approved abandonment of Shoreham. Shoreham was sold to the Long Island Power Authority for $1, and a surcharge of 3% was attached to Long Island electric bills for 30 years to pay off the $6 billion price tag. LIPA was then charged with decommissioning the plant.
LILCO filed for a “possession only” (POL) license; LIPA applied for a license to assume ownership of the plant. LIPA also filed for a decommissioning license and for permission to start dismantling the reactor and to remove the radioactive fuel from the reactor building to an on-site storage facility. Eventually, the fuel would be transported to another location. Had the plant not been made operational at 5 percent power, it would have required only simple demolition, a far less complicated and much cheaper enterprise than decommissioning.
Decommissioning: Major Decommissioning and Storage Activities
By the beginning of 1991, steps toward the decommissioning of Shoreham were well underway. Fuel had been removed from the reactor core, staff had been reduced by two-thirds, security was cut back, and approximately forty operating systems had been mothballed.
- February 26, 1992 - The NRC approved the transfer of the Shoreham license from LILCO to LIPA.
- June 11, 1992 - Shoreham set its final record, becoming the first commercial U.S. nuclear power plant to be dismantled.
- June 1994 - The last shipment of uranium fuel was shipped to Philadelphia Electric Company. LIPA paid $45 million for the company to use the fuel in its two reactors near Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
License Termination Activities
In 1994, the NRC tested the site to confirm that it was free of dangerous levels of radiation and issued an order terminating Shoreham’s license and releasing the site for “unrestricted use”.
- It cost approximately $186 million to decommission the reactor.
Due to its short operating period and low power history, the Shoreham site contained virtually no environmental contamination, or contamination outside of three major structures and their systems (spent fuel pool, dryer separator pit, and reactor cavity).
America’s First “Stillborn Reactor”
Shoreham took longer to build, from start to completion, than any other nuclear plant. If it operated, it would have been the most expensive commercial power plant in the nuclear industry in terms of dollars per kilowatt of capacity. LILCO incurred the largest financial penalty— $1.4 billion —ever imposed by the New York State Public Service Commission against a utility for defective construction and mismanagement.
- The final cost (including decommissioning) — in excess of $6 billion —was 80 times the estimated construction cost.
It was the first full-sized plant to be decommissioned, earning the title, “America’s first stillborn reactor.”
The Next Chapter
The hulking structure rising some 240 feet above the surface of the Long Island Sound looms as a stark reminder of what once was. The formation of this Advisory Committee is the first step in the process of determining what will be.