Maine Yankee Power Plant Operation with High-Level Nuclear Waste, Question 1 (1987)

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The Maine Yankee Power Plant Operation with High-Level Nuclear Waste Initiative, also known as Question 1, was on the November 3, 1987 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was approved.[1] This measure allowed continued generation of electricity by nuclear fission and for the Maine Yankee power plant to remain in operation, even if it created high-level nuclear waste was created as a waste product of that process. If the "No" option had received the majority vote, generation of electricity by means that produce high-level nuclear waste would have been prohibited after July 4, 1988.[2]


In 1989, voters approved an agreement with the Rocky Mountain Low-Level Radioactive Waste Board to dispose of low-level radioactive waste at an existing facility in Beatty, Nevada.[3] That agreement ended on December 31, 1992.[4] A new agreement was made in 1993 after voters voted in favor of a legislatively-referred state statute, which approved an interstate compact with Texas and Vermont for the disposal of the state's low-level radioactive waste at a proposed facility in Texas.

Election results

Maine Question 1 (1987)
Approveda Yes 235,069 59.07%

Election results via: Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library, Votes on Initiated Bills 1980-


In 1980, an indirect initiated state statute was defeated which would have prohibited the generation of electrical power by means of nuclear fission. In 1982, a second attempt was made to end the use of nuclear fission for electricity production in Maine, but that measure was also defeated.[1] In 1985, an indirect initiated state statute was approved which required voter approval for any plan for the storage or disposal of low-level radioactive waste.[1][5][6]

About the Maine Yankee

The Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant was a nuclear power plant built on Bailey Peninsula of Wiscasset, Maine, United States. It ran from 1972 until 1996, when it was shut for economic reasons. The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company formed in 1966, when plans for a pressurized water reactor in Wiscasset, Maine were made. The four-year $231 million construction of the plant began in 1968 and ended in 1972 when commercial operation of the plant began. Originally, Maine Yankee Power Co. had a 40-year license to run the plant. Over its 25 years as Maine's sole operating nuclear power plant, the power station produced much of Maine's power. Maine Yankee's most productive year came in 1989 when it produced reached 6,900 gigawatt-hours of electricity. From 1972 through 1996 the 900 megawatt reactor produced about 119,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity.[7][8][9]

Initial opposition to constructing the plant was led by Citizens for Safe Power, from 1967 through 1972; the group failed to stop construction but succeeded in persuading the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to impose stricter environmental standards and monitoring. During the 1980s, when nuclear opposition was provoked by the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island, leading to unsuccessful ballot initiatives in 1980 and 1982, and the 1987 measure as well.[7][8][9]


Paul Mandabach of Winner & Mandabach Campaigns worked on behalf of the campaign to allow the continued operation of the Maine Yankee. According to a November 5, 1987 article in the Bangor Daily News,

The consultant behind the massive save-Maine Yankee drive, Paul Mandabach of Winner, Wagner & Associates, masterminded a similar nuclear-industry financed campaign last year in Oregon that defeated a referendum to close that state's Trojan reactor. Mandabach has been involved in nearly a half dozen shutdown elections. [10]

—John S. Day [11]

Text of measure

The Maine Yankee in Wiscasset, Maine. Closed in 1996

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

1. Do you want to let any power plant like Maine Yankee operate after July 4, 1988 if it makes high-level nuclear waste? [10]

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