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Used fuel removed from Kawaunee nuclear plant

KEWAUNEE, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Owners of the former Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant are speeding up a transfer of used fuel, to address concerns from local residents. Dominion Resources shut down the plant in the spring of last year. Under its latest plan, the spent fuel rods would be moved from a large storage pool in the reactor to two dozen concrete casks which stand 18-feet tall. The move is set to be completed by the end of 2016.

The firm hired an Atlanta company to build the casks and fill them. Kewaunee has said it would take the full 60 years allowed by federal law to decommission the plant. Officials in the nearby town of Carlton are worried that it would hurt efforts to bring in new jobs. Dominion spokesman Mark Kanz tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the fuel-rod transfer is the only activity being moved up -- but it could set the stage for an earlier decommission down the road.

The Kewaunee reactor operated for 39 years until the utilities which bought the plant's electricity found cheaper alternatives with plants that burn natural gas. Nuclear plants are hanging onto their spent fuel because the federal government has not found finalized a national plan to store them. Wisconsin reactors have an estimated 1,430 tons of spent fuel. That's around two-percent of the U-S total.