The NRC believes the fuel can be safely stored for at least 100 in casks. But the radioactive half life is 16 million years, with a defined hazardous life of 160 million years. The world will soon be dotted with these ad-hoc radioactive dumps.
When it first fired up its twin reactors in 1973, the Zion nuclear power plant in Illinois — roughly 40 miles north of Chicago — was the largest in the world. It was a stunning work of technology that supplied electricity to some two million homes. And it could have easily lived on into the new century. But in 1998, its parent company, the energy giant Exelon Corp, turned off its lights and shuttered the facility rather than face some costly upgrades.For 12 years, Zion sat dormant on prime Lake Michigan shorefront as Exelon shelled out $10 million a year to maintain it and protect it with round-the-clock patrols of armed guards. By 2010, the facility had become home to drifting weeds and nesting falcons.
But that year, the federal government — in an arrangement never tried before — agreed to allow Exelon to transfer custody of the plant to EnergySolutions, a nuclear-waste storage outfit. The deal was worth a potential $1 billion in clean-up fees to EnergySolutions. It would be the largest nuclear power plant decommissioning ever undertaken in the United States. And it pledged to return the 375-acre site back to Exelon as grass and local shrubbery at the end of 10 years……..
EnergySolutions has spent the past year removing Zion’s fuel rods from a cooling pool and putting them into the canisters and casks for dry storage. The fuel, which is still about 400 degrees, can now be air cooled. Christian expects the company to begin moving the casks, via a heavy-haul rail, 100 yards south of the reactors by mid-October.
They will remain there until the feds come up with an alternative to Yucca Mountain. “Until we have a national repository open, this spent fuel has to stay where it is,” says Lawrence Boing, a nuclear decommissioning specialist at Argonne National Laboratory’s nuclear engineering division. “The big question now is what do we do with this stuff?” Read more »
German parties want utilities to shoulder nuclear shutdown costs BY MARKUS WACKET BERLIN Thu Nov 14, 2013 (Reuters) – German parties negotiating the formation of a coalition government want to make utilities pay more to dismantle their nuclear power plants and protect taxpayers from billions of euros in related costs, documents obtained by Reuters show.
Such a move, if adopted by a coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD), would be a blow to E.ON, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW who have already put aside 30 billion euros in provisions.
“A … fund could be considered to safeguard the financing of the disposal of nuclear assets,” the paper from the working group on environmental policies said.
Under the new proposal, the utility companies could be forced to pay into the fund which would be under political control.
Over a dozen working groups are hammering out policy compromises on a range of issues with the aim of forming a government in December. The nuclear proposal would have to be approved by a larger coalition panel led by Merkel and other party leaders before it was set in stone.
“We expect cooperation from the nuclear power operators in the switch to renewable energy and an acknowledgement of their responsibility for the orderly ending of the use of atomic energy,” the paper said.
The idea of a fund reflects concerns that Germany’s four nuclear power companies have taken insufficient precautions to pay for the dismantling of the plants and storage of atomic waste…….
The SPD is also keen to raise nuclear fuel tax and to extend the levy beyond 2016, when it is currently due to expire. However conservatives oppose this notion.
(Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Susan Fenton) http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/14/us-germany-coalition-nuclear-idUSBRE9AD0HN20131114
Because of costs, the de facto “solution” is firstly to extend reactor operating lifetimes, then partly decommission and dismantle reactors when they are taken out of service, delaying the decontamination of nuclear sites, and pushing all costs into the future. Unfortunately and until the reactors are made safe, they by definition pose almost open-ended risks. These extend from “simple” accidents and technical malfunction, to operator errors, and to the risk of them becoming giant Dirty Bomb targets in civil war, international war, or terror attacks. Even the most extreme non-nuclear industrial risks, notably at “Seveso or Bhopal type” chemical facilities, are pale by comparison.
Nuclear Power Dirty Bomb The Market Oracle, Oct 28, 2013 By: Andrew_McKillop THE 100-YEAR CURSE Within the next 15 – 20 years as many as 100 industry standard Westinghouse-type 900 MW PWR pressurized water reactors, concentrated in the “old nuclear’ countries will have to be decommissioned, dismantled and their sites made safe – unless political deciders maintain the sinister farce of rubber stamping reactor operating lifetime extensions. The decontamination process could take as long as 100 years. In several countries, especially Germany, Switzerland and probably Japan the dangerous game of politically-decided reactor life extensions – to push back the date of final decommissioning – has already ended or is ending.
But when it does end, nuclear debt will go into overdrive from its already extreme high setting. Nuclear power is capital intensive, lives on subsidies, thrives on false hopes and dies in debt.
Putting a figure on how much the nuclear “decomm” story will cost and how long it will take is in fact impossible – and is signalled by the tell-tale anticipative action of nuclear friendly governments. One stark example is the UK, which now sets decomm as an activity that will only need to start at a generous, or foolhardy 30 or 40 years after the reactor was powered down and removed from the national power grid. Until then, the reactor can sit on the horizon as a contribution to national culture or something “in perfect safety of course”. Decomm periods could or might therefore be 100 years.
DECOMMISSIONING SAGAS As already noted above, there are no rules, standards and best practice in decommissioning, dismantling and “making safe” or “securing” the former sites of reactors. So there is no standard cost for getting rid of reactors. It is a case-by-case process. This alone prods the highly political decision to set a “delay” between reactor shut down, and decommissioning which as noted above, in the extreme UK case is now set at 30-40 years.
Before the final shut down, of course, reactor operating life extensions can squeeze some more power out of the reactor – and further delay the moment when it has to be decommissioned. Only idiots can pretend this does not expose the reactor to increased risks of accidents. Ask yourselves if you prefer to fly in a 40-year-old airplane, or a new one.
Real-life decomm sagas, as distinct from emergency dismantling following a serious or catastrophic accident as in the case of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima are always – always – a tale of vastly underestimated initial costs and timelines for decomm, followed by massive cost overruns and time overruns. Plenty of examples concern the now-quarter-century old projects, and longer, where initial cost estimates have been exceeded by actual spending by 5 or 10 times, and the decomm project’s time for completion multiplied by 3. And today the projects are not yet fully completed!…….. Read more »
The final decommissioning at Trawsfynydd and elsewhere depends on finding a safe long term solution for where to deposit the ILW as well as the High Level Waste (HLW) currently stored at Sellafield. This includes the spent nuclear fuel which was removed when the plant closed.
1959: Construction started
1965 to 1991: Electricity generation
1993 to 1995: Decommissioning starts – fuel removed and sent to Sellafield
1995 to 2016: Recovery of waste and preparations to put the plant into a ‘passively safe’ state
2020-26: Reduction in height of reactor buildings
2040s: Scheduled removal of Intermediate Level Waste to deep geological storage
2074: Final site clearance starts
2083: Site returned to pre-existing state
How do you close a nuclear power station? BBC By Steven Green 28 Oct 13 As the UK embarks on building what could be a new generation of nuclear power plants, work continues to decommission the first generation of nuclear power stations at sites including Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia which will take an estimated 90 years to complete. Read more »
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Debates San Onofre Plant Shutdown At (includes Video) First Public Meeting http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/09/26/nuclear-regulatory-commission-debates-san-onofre-plant-shutdown-at-first-public-meeting/ September 26, 2013 SAN ONOFRE (CBSLA.com) — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission met on Thursday to debate the potential effects of shutting down the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
KCAL9′s Stacey Butler reports hundreds of residents gathered for their first chance to hear what’s next for the plant since it was permanently closed earlier this year.
Gary Headrick led the charge to have the plant shut down for good.
“There are issues that can challenge us even more than having a reactor operating,” he said.
Headrick and others asked the NRC what they plan to do with the radioactive spent fuel rods.
He says they don’t have a proven storage technique. “Not only nuclear waste, but toxic waste that’s part of the decommissioning process will be released into the ocean and the environment. There is high burn-up fuel which is much different than at other nuclear facilities which makes it harder to store nuclear waste,” he said.
Activist Carol Jahnkow is asking for a citizens oversight committee.
“We don’t want to wait two years to find out what they’re going to do, how much they’ve been spending in the interim and what safety precautions they’ve taken,” she said.
An NRC spokesman said the agency will be watching Edison’s every move. “The decommissioning activity will be done safely under the watchful eyes of the NRC, and it’s not over until we say it’s over,” he said.
An Edison spokesperson declined an on-camera interview but said that it will cost over $4 billion to decommission the plant. Customers’ rates, the spokesperson said, will not go up for five years.
An NRC spokesperson said Edison is looking at either disassembling the plant quickly or letting it sit for 30 years while waiting for the radioactivity to decay.
Citizens seek role in San Onofre decommissioning By ERIKA I. RITCHIE / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 26 Sept 13, CARLSBAD – Speaking on behalf of several hundred people, Gene Stone asked officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday night to consider the formation of a citizens coalition that would help oversee the decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, a process that could take decades.
“We are here today in the hope that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will make San Onofre the flagship project for a safe-and-sane cleanup of America’s effort at decommissioning our old and … http://www.ocregister.com/articles/decommissioning-528288-nuclear-edison.html
Japan LDP Plan Would Put Government in Control of Fukushima Cleanup, WSJ, Proposal Would Reduce Tepco’s Financial Burden By MARI IWATA, 20 Sept 13 TOKYO—Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is considering a plan that would give the government sole responsibility for containing and cleaning up contamination from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant, allowing its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., 9501.TO -2.28% to focus its dwindling resources more efficiently on decommissioning the facility……..
The government had already effectively nationalized Tepco by buying a majority of its shares, but the stock still trades on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is eager to see the cash-strapped company return to financial health, a significant challenge, given lost revenue from the idling of all of the company’s nuclear reactors, as well as the costs of the cleanup and purchasing of more liquefied natural gas than before the accident to fuel thermal-power plants to make up for lost nuclear generation.
Tepco has posted two straight years of large net losses since the accident. It swung to a profit in the April-June quarter, solely on the back of a large government subsidy to help it pay compensation to Fukushima victims but it carries Y800 billion ($8.14 billion) in debt that should be refinanced this fall. On top of that, Tepco estimates it must borrow an additional Y300 billion by the end of December if it wants to stay afloat, a spokesman said……..
Tepco President Naomi Hirose said Thursday that the company would prepare Y1 trillion ($10 billion) to decommission the entire plant in addition to Y960 billion it had reserved for the work by the end of June. This doesn’t include costs associated with handling contaminated water at the site. There hasn’t been any estimate on the total cost of decommissioning the stricken plant…….Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka has urged the government and Tepco to intensify the decommissioning effort, saying “the deadliest risk is another huge natural disaster,” which would “destroy all these makeshift tanks and water processing systems, releasing all the radioactive materials there into the environment.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324492604579086742989825408.htm
NRC sets first public meeting on decommissioning San Onofre nuclear plant http://www.scpr.org/news/2013/09/12/39216/nrc-sets-san-onofre-nuclear-plant-meeting-in-carls/
Ed Joyce | September 12th, 2013 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Thursday it will hold a public meeting September 26 in Carlsbad to talk about the decommissioning process for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County.
It will be the agency’s first public meeting on closing the plant operated by Southern California Edison.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Omni LaCosta Hotel, 2100 Costa del Mar Road. Doors will open at 5 p.m. to accommodate security screening.
An NRC press release says technical staff will give a presentation describing the process and regulations covering the decommissioning with a Q&A session to follow.
“We think this meeting is very important for the community,” said Gene Stone with San Clemente-based Residents Organized for a Safe Environment. It’s one of several groups in Orange and San Diego counties that pushed for the plant’s closure.
Stone says a coalition of environmental groups “will create a committee focusing on safety of nuclear waste storage, the timeliness of the process and the costs associated with decommissioning.”
The nuclear plant, which is located on the coast near the border of San Diego and Orange counties, has been shut down since January 2012 after radioactive steam escaped from damaged tubes inside one of the reactors. In June of this year, Southern California Edison announced it would seek the permanent closure of the plant.
Edison International Chairman Ted Craver told reporters in June that closing the plant would take decades and result in spent nuclear fuel being stored “for a very long time” at the plant.
According to Craver, the company has a $2.7 billion decommissioning fund that can be used to close San Onofre. But the money to make up for the loss of the San Onofre plant will come from ratepayers, insurance claims, shareholders and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which made the equipment that led to the problems at San Onofre.
Earlier this month, Southern California Edison opened the San Onofre Digital Document Library. The utility said the library provides the public with documents related to the design of the steam generators that were cited as a reason for the plant’s problems.
Along with Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric owns 20 percent of the plant and the City of Riverside owns nearly 2 percent.
The plant is located about two miles south of San Clemente.
Nuclear plant bosses forced to pay back inappropriate expense claims including a £714 taxi bill for a CAT, Mail Online 9 Sept 13
- Executives at Nuclear Management Partners consortium widely criticised
- They were brought in to help decommission part of the Sellafield plant
- Claims also included trip to US Masters and £719 on good from Amazon
- One boss demanded £714 cab fare for themselves ‘and the cat’
- Audit of claims from 2008 to 2012 leads to thousands being handed back Taxpayer-paid executives running the Sellafield nuclear power plant billed £714 to chauffeur-drive a cat, expense claims revealed today.
- Bosses at consortium Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) also used the perk to pay for flights to the US Masters golf tournament and Amazon purchases submitted without receipts.NMP were brought in to decommission a nuclear plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, but senior staff have now been forced to hand back thousands of pounds after an audit of their claims between 2008 and 2012.
- From more than 606 expense documents it emerged £236,781 of claims were requested without a proper description, £30,557 worth were purely for personal expenditure and £42,711 should not have been claimed at all.
Jamie Reed, Labour MP for Copeland in Cumbria, which contains Sellafield told City AM: ‘A workforce that is being asked to accept many changes – including pay restraint – will have many questions.
‘Taxis for cats and flights to the US Masters simply beggars belief.’ Read more »
Nuclear Trashmen Gain From Record U.S. Reactor Shutdowns Bloomberg By Brian Wingfield - Sep 4, 2013 More than 50 years into the age of nuclear energy, one of the biggest growth opportunities may be junking old reactors. Entergy Corp. (ETR) said Aug. 27 it will close its 41-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2014, making the reactor the fifth unit in the U.S. marked for decommissioning within the past 12 months, a record annual total. Companies that specialize in razing nuclear plants and hauling away radioactive waste are poised to benefit.
Disposal work is “where companies are going to make their fortune,” Margaret Harding, an independent nuclear-industry consultant based in Wilmington, North Carolina, said in an phone interview. Contractors that are usually involved in building reactors, including Bechtel Group Inc. and URS Corp. (URS), “are going to be looking very hard at the decommissioning side of it.”
With Dominion Resources Inc. (D), Duke Energy Corp. (DUK)and Edison International (EIX) shuttering reactors this year — and Exelon Corp. (EXC) planning to close its Oyster Creek plant in 2019 — the U.S. nuclear fleet of 104 units is shrinking, even as Southern Co. (SO) and Scana Corp. (SCG) build two units each. The reasons vary: Edison and Duke are permanently removing damaged plants from service. Entergy and Dominion are retiring the units because of factors including a glut of natural gas, a competing fuel……….
The length of time to decommission a reactor creates uncertainty surrounding plant oversight, according to Shaun Burnie, an independent nuclear consultant who previously led environmental group Friends of the Earth’s campaign to close Edison’s San Onofre plant in California.
“Is Entergy going to be around in 50 years time? In 10 years time?” he said in a phone interview.
Ralph Andersen, senior director of radiation safety and environmental protection for the Nuclear Energy Institute, said the industry is entering a new era for the companies that handle reactor decommissioning.
“It really does open the door to the marketplace rethinking ways to handle decommissioning,” he said………. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-04/nuclear-trashmen-gain-from-record-u-s-reactor-shutdowns.html
Nuclear Trashmen Gain From Record U.S. Reactor Shutdowns Bloomberg By Brian Wingfield - Sep 4, 2013 1:”……..Tricky Business The physical work involved in tearing down a nuclear plant takes about 10 years, according to John Hickman, a project manager in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decommissioning branch. The agency gives reactor owners 60 years to complete decommissioning, which it defines as permanently removing a plant from service and reducing radioactivity enough for the property to be used for another purpose.
The NRC is now overseeing 14 commercial reactors that are in some phase of decommissioning, excluding those marked for closure in the last year. The first plant to deliver commercial power in the U.S. was a General Electric Co (GE).-designed unit near Fremont, California, which began service in 1957, according to the agency. It was also the first unit to be decommissioned, in 1963.
Razing a plant is tricky business. Radiation can seep into the concrete, pipes and metal of plant structures, and workers need to be able to break down the units without exposing themselves, or the public, to contamination. Plants often sit idle for decades before being torn down in order to let radioactive material decay. Read more »
UK’s nuclear clean-up programme to cost billions more than expected Guardian UK, Terry Macalister 23 June 13, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority declines to predict final lifetime clean-up cost amid fears total bill could exceed £100bn
The public body charged with overseeing the dismantling of Britain’s network of atomic power and research stations will reveal on Monday that its estimates for the lifetime cost of the programme has risen by billions of pounds.
Despite this, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) will say in its annual report that it is getting to grips with the clean-up problem because the rate of cost growth is slowing year-on-year.
Yet the soaring costs will alarm industry critics at a time when the government is trying to encourage construction of a new generation of atomic power plants while plans to construct a permanent home for high-level radioactive waste are stalled.
In the NDA’s 2011 annual report the provisional cost of dealing with the UK’s nuclear legacy was put at £53bn, compared with a 2010 figure of £49bn. The new number in the 2012 set of accounts is expected to be around £55bn. But under previous accounting methods, the figure historically used has risen to well over £80bn with some predicting the final bill could exceed £100bn. Read more »
So there the disabled behemoth sits, awaiting a decommissioning project that will continue for decades, requiring continued regulatory oversight and inspiring never-ending debates about who should pay and how much.
The Unit 1 reactor, which was shut down in 1992, was supposed to be boxed up and shipped to a repository in South Carolina, but no one could figure out how to transport a 770-ton bundle of radioactive junk across the country. Instead, it remains where it is, encased in concrete, waiting for the transmutation of the elements to complete its ten-thousand-million-year-long conversion from deadly isotopes to stable lead. We won’t be free of it anytime soon.
So long, San Onofre (in like 700 million years) High Country News Judith Lewis Mernit | Jun 17, 2013“……We have come to the end of an era — the nuclear power renaissance I had set out to investigate a decade ago has come to nothing.
Yes, a handful of new reactors have been proposed and a couple are even under construction, interrupting a hiatus that lasted nearly a quarter of a century. And the same band of shiny, PR-minded techno-enviros continue to argue that nuclear power is the only solution to climate change (their latest effort, Robert Stone’s documentary “Pandora’s Promise,” is simply one long advert for dreamy advanced waste-free reactors that don’t yet exist). Read more »
Nuclear Decommissioning Surge Is Investor Guessing Game, Bloomberg by Stefan Nicola in Berlin at firstname.lastname@example.org; Julie Johnsson in Chicago at email@example.com editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at firstname.lastname@example.org 16 June 13
Nuclear utilities thrust into the spotlight after the Fukushima meltdowns have ordered 20 reactors shut, the most in a three-year span since Chernobyl’s aftermath, saddling the industry with a possible $26 billion in costs.
EON SE and RWE AG (RWE) are leading the biggest decommissioning project by European utilities ever, an effort to tear down 12 reactors in Germany over two decades. Edison International (EIX) said June 7 it will never restart its idled two-unit San Onofre Generating Station outside Los Angeles, bringing the number of U.S. reactors permanently closed in a year to a record four.
The global utility industry faces its biggest test to prove enough money was saved for shutdowns, having undergone numerous cost-overruns building atomic plants. A cautionary tale can be seen with government-owned facilities. In Britain, where taxpayers are on the hook to retire the Sellafield complex’s seven reactors and fuel-reprocessing stations on the Irish Seaduring the next 100 years, the U.K. government this year doubled its estimate for the work to 67.5 billion pounds ($106 billion).
“There’s a lot of speculation how much these projects cost, but an exact estimate can only be given by utilities,” said Sascha Gentes, a Karlsruhe Institute for Technology professor specializing in atomic shutdowns. “The longer a nuclear decommissioning project takes, the more expensive it becomes.” Read more »
Nuclear Decommissioning Surge Is Investor Guessing Game, Bloomberg by Stefan Nicola in Berlin at email@example.com; Julie Johnsson in Chicago at firstname.lastname@example.org editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at email@example.com 16 June 13 “………German Closings Germany closed eight units after Fukushima and will shutter another nine by 2022. Its four utilities have set aside about 33 billion euros for decommissioning their 21 reactors and handling the deadly waste from them. The utilities set up GNS, a company that supplies 125-ton Castor dry casks to store and transport spent nuclear fuel, and also employ in-house decommissioning staff.
EON is 10 years into the job on its oldest commercial-scale unit, the 672-megawatt Stade plant in Lower Saxony, slated for completion by 2014. It started tearing down its 670-megawatt Wuergassen reactor in 1995, and plans to also complete that next year.
RWE said tearing down its 1970s-era Muelheim-Kaerlich reactor will cost about 750 million euros; it didn’t give cost estimates for the two pressurized water reactors at the 2,525-megawatt Biblis plant, which was closed after Fukushima, citing a lack of permits for their deconstruction plans.
EON declined to reveal the individual bill for the Wuergassen and Stade projects. It said costs are at about 1 billion euros depending on the reactor type, citing a “benchmark report for Germany,” in an e-mailed reply to questions.
The opposition Green Party, which was in government from 1998 until 2005 and helped draft Germany’s first nuclear phase-out agreement, has called for the money to be put in a government-administered fund.
“Projects are often more expensive and longer than anticipated,” Sylvia Kotting-Uhl, a lawmaker with the Greens, said in an interview. “The question is: Will the money be available when it’s needed? A public fund would ensure that.”….”
EON and RWE said the current system shouldn’t be changed in favor of a state-run fund. The German system of setting aside money via utilities’ balance sheets “has proven itself,” Lothar Lambertz, a spokesman for RWE, said in an e-mailed reply to questions.http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-16/nuclear-decommissioning-surge-is-investor-guessing-game.html
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