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NW nuclear plant back on grid just as its future is debated

Associated Press
Energy Northwest's Columbia Generating Station near Richland, Wash., is shown in this 2003 file photo.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant is back on line. A six-month outage ended Tuesday, the same day that critics and supporters of the plant debated its future in Richland, Wash.

The Columbia Generating Station has been off-line for a refueling outage. Contractor delays meant the project took about twice as long as planned.

The meeting in Richland hosted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission focused on whether the nuclear plant should be allowed to run for another 20 years. Some testified in support, like Lori Sanders a public utility district commissioner who helps to govern the plant.

Lori Sanders: “Our long-term plan has a lot of capital improvement to be done, and it’s on schedule and being done. So I’m actually feeling pretty good.”

But others at the meeting said the plant should not get a new license before there is a full explanation of the recent nuclear disaster in Japan.

Copyright 2011 Northwest Public Radio

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.