Dairyland Power officials have delayed a planned closure of Hwy 35 near Genoa.

A portion of the highway will be closed for about 45 minutes today as workers move a cask of radioactive waste to a storage pad at Dairyland Power’s Genoa site.

This will be the last of five casks to be moved this summer as the La Crosse-based utility completes a five-year project to remove nearly 120,000 pounds of waste from a fuel storage pool in the reactor building — where it has been stored for the past 25 years — into steel and concrete casks, where it can be held indefinitely at a much lower cost.

Today’s road closure is expected to last about 45 minutes and will likely happen between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to Dairyland.

The highway will be closed in the area adjacent to the Genoa plant. Motorists can access Hwy. 56 in Genoa and Mundsack Road to the south. The boat landing south of the power plant will also be closed during the transfer.

The first cask was put onto the pad July 12.

The project is the culmination of more than five years of preparation to remove that fuel and one of the final steps in a project costing more than $40 million.

Though the federal government has no immediate plans to take possession of the radioactive waste, the move should cut in half the annual cost to store it and speed up the decommissioning process, expected to take another seven years.

Workers load the fuel assemblies — bundles of eight foot rods — under 15 feet of water into a stainless steel canister that was then welded shut, filled with helium and loaded into a cask with steel-lined 2.5-foot concrete walls designed to absorb harmful radiation from the depleted uranium fuel.

The La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor, or LACBWR, was a 50 megawatt demonstration plant that went online in 1969 — the first in Wisconsin. Dairyland closed the plant in 1987 and began dismantling some three million pounds of reinforced concrete, piping and equipment, including the 300-ton reactor vessel.

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