Northwest's only nuclear plant celebrates relicensing

Originally published on May 24, 2012 4:56 pm

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hundreds of employees of the Northwest’s only power plant celebrated Thursday. The Columbia Generating Station now is licenced to run for another 20 years.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the new 20-year license. That means the plant in southeast Washington will send up plumes of steam, visible for long distances across the desert until 2043.

It took employees five years to finish the application process. Carl Adrian heads the Tri-City Development Council. He says the plant is an important employer here, but it’s more than that.

“The Columbia Generating Station is just one of a couple of things in this community that kind of link our heritage here to the present and the future," Adrian says. "And so that doesn’t mean a lot from an economic development standpoint, but I think from a community standpoint, it’s really important.”

The plant has come under some increased scrutiny by federal nuclear watchdogs since it underwent several unplanned shutdowns. Federal regulators are also requiring studies of the plant since the Fukashima nuclear disaster last year.

On the Web:

Columbia Generating Station:

http://www.energy-northwest.com/generation/cgs/

NRC nuclear operator licensing:

http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operator-licensing.html

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