When the CT Yankee Nuclear Power Plant was dismantled
they sent a lot of nuclear waste down river on barges. I don't know where radioactive waste went... almost don't want to. But it went without any untoward effects, locally at least. But there was an "almost"...
The "almost" was observed by only a handful of people. Had there been an actual mishap, as it were, it would have made international news. It didn't. The event took place some four years ago now, hard to think it was that long ago. Here is what it was, which brings me to the pictures.
The picture above I took while leaving for work that morning. A barge was headed downriver toward the swing bridge [seen in the second picture], not even two miles south from where it is in the picture above.
Now, a barge's travel time is lumbering, but it doesn't take long to travel the distance from where I'd seen it to the bridge. I knew the
bridge would be swung open and a long wait would be in store so I missed the actual event by taking a different route to work. However, there were maybe 30 or so people, including a couple of state police, some town workers, the bridge operator and a handful of locals did witness the "almost" event.
Simply put, the bridge's operating mechanism failed to work. Cold winds, winter weather, whatever, had frozen the bearing housing in place and the swing bridge wouldn't budge. The bridge remained closed. The bridge man then came down from the control room and, with a sledgehammer or pipe, banged furiously on the equipment to dislodge it to get the bridge open.
Still nothing, yet the barge, and it's attendant tug boat was headed closer with every minute.
People watched in suspense and disbelief. Most of us know that you can't mess with a barge of any type. The bridge is always opened in advance. The bridgeman went up and down slam-banging on the bearing mechanism two more times as the barge drew closer.
On the east side of the river is a rock cliff and when the bridge failed to open, the tug crew tried to redirect the barge toward the cliff. The crew succeeded, and their efforts were met with a resounding slam of metal hull against rock. This slowed down the barge just enough. For no sooner did the barge slam against the cliff, that the bridge once more began to rotate out across the waters.
The tug then remaneuvered the barge and soon the load of toxic nuclear waste was once again on its journey elsewhere. perhaps the Carolinas. I really don't know.
After the bridge was returned to its normal position, the bridgeman came down from his perch and walked over to the town hall. His face was flush, and he was heard saying that the governor owed him a tall stiff drink at the end of the day.
I wish that I could say that this one barge was the only time that nuclear waste was taken from the old Connecticut Yankee site. It wasn't. A lot of waste removed was transported in trucks like this one on the right. It went down two lane roads rather like any other semi rig making a haul. The trucks went out with such regularity that I only needed to keep the camera in the truck to catch this shot.
Other waste remains on-site, buried in casks and entombed in concrete. I don't know how long that protection shall last.
But the main plant is gone now. Those of us who sat for years consciously not thinking about its presence, have resumed pretending that nothing risky remains in its wake.
Labels: Connecticut Yankee, East Haddam bridge, environment, hazardous materials, nuclear power, nuclear waste