Maine: An Encyclopedia

Nuclear Power, Maine Yankee

The Maine Yankee Atomic Power plant was built between 1968 and 1972 at a cost of $231 million in Wiscasset.  The Central Maine Power Company, its largest shareholder, selected Wiscasset because of its fresh water and ocean access, a nearby railroad and highways, proximity to electrical load centers and transmission lines, and excellent bedrock for foundations, among other reasons.

The plant was Maine’s largest generator of electricity, producing about 119 billion kilowatt hours for Maine and New England. It contributed $13 million in property taxes, cutting residents’ property taxes by ninety percent. The plant’s 480 full-time workers spent their incomes in the community. So, the town was able to dramatically improve its schools, parks, and roads, fire and police departments.  It also built a new community center, and provided a free ambulance service to residents.

Maine Yankee operated from 1972 to 1996.  It survived three state-wide citizen initiated ballot measures, in 1980, 1987, and 1992, intended to close the plant. The plant was shut down in 1995 due to cracks in its steam generator tubes but never fully recovered. The the company decided to dismantle the plant on August 6, 1997, only the third U.S. nuclear plant in the country to do so.

In 2004, it was imploded and the remains transported by train to a disposal site (Envirocare) in Utah. The reactor pressure vessel was shipped by barge to a low level radioactive waste disposal facility in Barnwell South Carolina. The approximate cost of decommissioning was $568 million.

The “fallout” from Maine Yankee’s demise was that the town had to face budget cuts and tax increases.  Over the succeeding years, Wiscasset has adjusted to its new “normal” status as “The Prettiest Town in Maine,” according to its motto.

Additional resources

Brack, H.G. ed. Legacy for our children: the unfunded costs of decommissioning the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station: Maine Yankee as the model for the dilemmas of dismantling any nuclear power facility: including recommendations to the Maine State Legislature, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Hulls Cove, Me. Center for Biological Monitoring. 1993.

Maine. State Planning Office. The Effects of a Mandatory Early Shutdown of Maine Yankee. Augusta, Me. The Office. 1987.

“Maine Yankee: A Brief history of operation, decommissioning, and the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel.”  Four page pamphlet. No date, no author cited. (accessed October 30, 2012)

“Maine Yankee: A Potential Site for Low-level Radioactive Waste Storage or Disposal.” Augusta, Me. Maine Yankee. 1992. [Maine Law & Legislative Reference Library (Augusta)]

Segal, Howard P. Utopias: A Brief History from Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities. Hoboken, NJ.  Wiley-Blackwell. 2012.

Urquhart, Lindsay A.”Invisible on the Coast of Maine: Maine Yankee and its High Level Nuclear Waste.” Brunswick, Me. Bowdoin College. Environmental Studies. (accessed October 29, 2012).

Woodard,Colin. “Remember the Maine Yankee.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, ISSN 0096-3402, 02/2001, Volume 57, Issue 1, p. 11.

The University of Maine’s Raymond H. Fogler Library, Special Collections department has a substantial number of document and studies related to Maine Yankee.

Documents are also available at (accessed October 29, 2012)


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This entry was last modified: October 31, 2012 01:28 AM

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