Northwest's Only Commercial Nuclear Plant Celebrates Relicensing

May 24, 2012

Hundreds of employees of the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant celebrated Thursday. The Columbia Generating Station now is licensed to run for another 20 years. Correspondent Anna King was there.

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 5 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.

Carl Adrian: “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. 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.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio