Norwich gets report on Millstone emergency center

Norwich - Dominion's Millstone Nuclear Power Station is nearing completion of a $10 million to $20 million emergency response system this fall, mandated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the wake of the 2011 catastrophic failure of one Japanese nuclear power plant, while a second one weathered the major earthquake and tsunami.

The NRC required Dominion to create an emergency operations facility outside the 10-mile zone surrounding the Millstone nuclear station in Waterford. The current emergency operations facility is on Millstone property, one mile from the nuclear plant.

The $5 million to $10 million facility under construction next to the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium in the Stanley Israelite Norwich Business Park is expected to be completed in December.

Dominion officials gave a presentation Monday to the Norwich City Council outlining the NRC requirements and the company's planned response to the mandates.

The site will be used during training drills and during "All Call Drills" - held once every three years when every Millstone employee must respond to unannounced drills, said Kevin Hennessy, director of federal, state and local affairs for Dominion.

As part of the emergency operations facility, Dominion is requesting an agreement with Norwich to use 200 parking spaces in the western portion of the adjacent Dodd Stadium parking lot during the "All Call Drills" at no cost to the utility.

Hennessy said the drills are a surprise to Dominion employees, but drill planners can work with the Connecticut Tigers minor league baseball team to avoid game times when scheduling the drills.

The operations facility will house high-tech emergency operations equipment and storage, but will not be staffed on a daily basis, Hennessy said.

Hennessy told the City Council an open house will be scheduled this fall when the facility is completed to allow city officials to tour it.

The emergency operations facility also is part of the second aspect of NRC's mandates in response to the Japan earthquake and tsunami. During that emergency, the Daiichi nuclear plant lost power and suffered major damage, while at a second plant, Daini, staff acted quickly to bring an emergency power supply to the plant to keep the nuclear core cooled.

Hennessy said Dominion officials - and officials from all U.S. nuclear plants and the NRC - visited the Japanese facility to cull the lessons learned from both plants' experiences. That in turn led to the NRC's "Beyond Design Basis" requirements that power supplies be ensured during emergencies.

To that end, Dominion is building a second $5 million to $10 million domed facility at the northeast corner of the Millstone station employee parking lot to store emergency power equipment. The 125-foot diameter, 38-foot tall concrete dome would be the second phase of ensuring power is maintained during an emergency, Hennessy said if the first safety systems in place within the Millstone nuclear plant fail.

The third phase is a national plan to store emergency equipment at facilities in Memphis, Tenn., and Phoenix, Ariz., with pledges to fly or drive materials to the emergency sites within 24 hours.

That brought Dominion back to Dodd Stadium with the need to supply a large, flat area to bring in, lay out and stage the equipment. Dominion will ask the city of Norwich for a second agreement to use the overflow parking area at the east end of the stadium parking lot - where the Connecticut Renaissance Faire is now being held - to bring in and lay out the national equipment if necessary during a major emergency.

While the first parking agreement would be at no cost to Dominion, the utility proposed a fee of $2,500 per day for the emergency lay out area if needed. Hennessy said that while it might be unlikely that events would be held at the stadium during such a major emergency, Dominion recognized that the use potentially could displace scheduled use of the parking area.

c.bessette@theday.com

Twitter: @Bessettetheday

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