Dominion to build emergency operations center in Norwich

Norwich — A 4.3-acre wooded lot in the Stanley Israelite Business Park will soon be cleared for construction of an 18,000-square-foot office building that will house the emergency operations center for Millstone Power Station.

The $5 million to $10 million project was announced Friday by the city and Dominion, the company that owns the Waterford nuclear power plant. Dominion has a purchase-and-sale agreement for the lot with the Easter Seals center, which owns it, said Ken Holt, spokesman for Dominion. It is located at 24 Stott Ave., between Easter Seals and Dodd Stadium.

Holt said the new center will replace the existing emergency operations building just outside the Waterford power station's security area.

"We need to have a facility outside the emergency planning area," Holt said, referring to a specific zone around the plant designated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The zone encompasses a 10-mile radius around the plant, including Old Lyme, East Lyme, Waterford, New London, Groton, Fishers Island and portions of Lyme and Ledyard.

The building would be the "primary management center for management of emergency response for the organization, including coordination of radiological and environmental assessments during an emergency," Holt said. It would also be the hub of communications between Millstone officials and local, state and federal officials during an emergency as well as during safety drills that take place about four times a year, he said.

The building will be subject to local property taxes.

Mayor Peter Nystrom said the city will benefit from the new tax revenues as well as from the presence of Dominion in the city. "This really gives them a foothold in the city and adds another asset to the business park," he said.

The property, Nystrom said, "wasn't on the market," but officials from the Norwich Community Development Corp. worked with Dominion to find a suitable site. The property will have parking for 75 cars, but overflow parking will be available both at the stadium and at Easter Seals should the center need it, Nystrom said.

Holt said the building is expected to open by the end of 2014. Applications for city land use permits are pending.

Bob Mills, president of NCDC, called the new building "a huge win for the city." It was the result of a team effort between the NCDC, city leaders, the city planning department, the staff of Norwich Public Utilities and Dominion, he added.

j.benson@theday.com

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