Nuclear Plant's Plans Upset Neighbors

Courant Staff Writer
March 27, 2008

HADDAM — For years, the people living in the shadow of the Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant consoled themselves with thoughts of when the building would be torn down, the soil deemed safe and the wooded, riverfront land returned to nature.

That might not happen under a plan that Connecticut Yankee unveiled Wednesday to about 50 feisty plant neighbors from Haddam Neck, the small borough of Haddam that has been host to the plant for 40 years.

Connecticut Yankee President Wayne Norton announced the company is getting ready to advertise about 500 acres of the property for sale. Connecticut Yankee will soon start soliciting confidential "expressions of interest" from qualified developers, Norton told residents.

The firm would keep control of about 75 acres of the site for storage of spent nuclear fuel.

Some residents called the plan to sell the land to the highest bidder an "act of betrayal."

"CY tempted the town of Haddam to get dry cask storage by telling us the land would be conserved," said resident Bill Harris. "You sold us a bill of goods to get what you wanted. Now you're telling us you're going to go to the highest bidder."

The closure of Connecticut Yankee, the sixth nuclear power plant built in the nation, was completed in July. The plant began generating power in 1967 and produced 110 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity before it ceased operations in 1996.

Residents said that Connecticut Yankee had all but promised them to conserve the land, which includes 7,500 feet of frontage on the Connecticut River and a part of the Lower Salmon River Watershed, dubbed "one of the world's last great places" by environmental groups.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has said it wants to protect the parcel.

Haddam wants to buy a few acres at a bargain price to turn into a playground.

Norton said the disposition process outlined Wednesday doesn't rule out conservation. He apologized for any past "representations" made by now retired company officials, but said state and federal regulations prevent Connecticut Yankee from simply giving the property away.

Norton described the "expression of interest" process as a key step in meeting Connecticut Yankee's fiduciary responsibilities to investors and ratepayers, who funded its multimillion-dollar decommissioning of the plant.

Norton said most of the process would remain private, but he agreed to consider what the community of Haddam Neck wants to do with the land, and a citizen's request for formal public participation in the disposition process.

A court settlement requires Connecticut Yankee to give Haddam and the state the right to match any offer for the land, Norton said. The final decision on how to dispose of the land must eventually be reviewed by state and federal regulatory agencies, he said.

Connecticut Yankee has hired Vita Nuova, a Sandy Hook company that specializes in the redevelopment of "complex sites."

Contact Penelope Overton at

Source: The Hartford Courant