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Kewaunee Nuclear Plant Powers Down

Susan Bence

The Kewaunee nuclear power plant started shutting down this month. It’ll take 60 years to finish the job.

Spokesman Mark Kanz says, years from now, crews will place the radioactive fuel in underground casks and seal them. Right now, workers are draining it into what’s called a spent fuel pool - where it will sit and cool  for 10 years.

The Kewaunee plant began operating in 1974, but economic forces, particularly cheaper natural gas fuel, have ruined the market for its energy.

Kanz says, decades from now, the buildings on the 60-acre site will be razed. Then he expects some of the land to be used for recreation because it sits on the shore of Lake Michigan.

While the nuclear operation occupies 60 acres, the plant owns 900 acres. Kanz says about 600 are being farmed, and he expects that use to continue.

The power plant is located on Lake Michigan, a couple hours north of Milwaukee.

The owner, Virginia-based Dominion is paying for the shutdown, which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Friday, layoffs begin for 200 workers.

Susan is WUWM's environmental reporter.