Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant

Monika Sivilli
January 27, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2017

Purpose of Nuclear Power Plants

Fig. 1: This is the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The purpose of a nuclear power plant is to generate clean energy that aids in the high electricity demands. The process of uranium atoms splitting produces nuclear energy and additionally does not require burning of fossil fuels which avoids greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear power plants are known to be an effective way to produce energy; a few states generate more than half of their electricity from power plants. [1]

The Problem with the Shoreham Power Plant

The Shoreham power plant, shown in Fig. 1, faced many obstacles when developers tried to receive a license for full operation. One of these challenges was because of the Three Mile Island accident which was arguably the worst nuclear power plant disaster in the history of the U.S. [2] After this incident many people were left in a state of fear and took precautions to ensure it never happened again. Therefore, during construction of the Shoreham nuclear power plant there were necessary standards to be met before operation could immense; an emergency evacuation plan was at the top of the list.

Until constructors of the Shoreham power plant had adequate information to develop an evacuation plan, operation of the plant would be halted. A survey was sent out to Suffolk and Nassau county to approximate the number of people who would evacuate if there was ever a disaster at the power plant; the results showed that more people planned to evacuate than just the resident within a 10 mile span of the power plant. [3] Because of Long Island's narrow shape and limited escape routes of the island it was concluded there would not be enough time for a safe evacuation of everyone. Suffolk officials and citizens supported this claim and decided the Shoreham power plant should not receive a license for operation. Additionally, the County refused to help plan a Radiological Emergency Response Plan (RERP) and eventually received support from the state of New York as well.


Ultimately, it was the decision of the LILCO to stop the Shoreham plant from full operation, however, more than $5.5 billion was spent on the construction and it was still standing. Even though so much money was spent on the project there were ultimately unnecessary potential harms to continue. The reason the Shoreham power plant never received the license for operation was due to an evacuation problem not because there was fear of radiation contamination. [3] The LILCO sold the power plant to the state of New York for $1 in an agreement to halt operation.

© Monika Sivilli. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1]V. H. M. Visschers, C. Køller, and M. Siegrist, "Climate Change Benefits and Energy Supply Benefits as Determinants of Acceptance of Nuclear Power Stations: Investigating an Explanatory Model," Energy Policy 39, 3621 (2011).

[2] C. Hopkins, "Three Mile Island," Physics 241, Stanford University, Winter 2015.

[3] D. McCaffery, The Politics of Nuclear Power: A History of the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant (Springer Science+Business Media, 1991).