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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Too massively expensive to really think about – getting rid of the world’s old nuclear reactors

Getting Rid Of Old Nuclear Reactors Worldwide Is Going To Cost Way More Than People Think, Business Insider,  NINA CHESTNEYGEERT DE CLERCQ LONDON/PARIS (Reuters)  20 Jan 15 – German utility E.ON’s breakup has led to worries that funds set aside for decommissioning reactors will not suffice, but globally the cost of unwinding nuclear is uncertain as estimates range widely.

As ageing first-generation reactors close, the true cost of decommissioning will be crucial for the future of the nuclear industry, already ailing following the 2011 Fukushima disaster and competition from cheap shale gas, falling oil prices and a flood of renewable energy from wind and solar.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said late last year that almost 200 of the 434 reactors in operation around the globe would be retired by 2040, and estimated the cost of decommissioning them at more than $US100 billion.

But many experts view this figure as way too low, because it does not include the cost of nuclear waste disposal and long-term storage and because decommissioning costs – often a decade or more away – vary hugely per reactor and by country.

Decommissioning

“Half a billion dollars per reactor for decommissioning is no doubt vastly underestimated,” said Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based nuclear energy consultant.

The IEA’s head of power generation analysis, Marco Baroni, said that even excluding waste disposal costs, the $US100 billion estimate was indicative, and that the final cost could be as much as twice as high. He added that decommissioning costs per reactor can vary by a factor of four.

Decommissioning costs vary according to reactor type and size, location, the proximity and availability of disposal facilities, the intended future use of the site, and the condition of the reactor at the time of decommissioning.

Although technology used for decommissioning might gradually become cheaper, the cost of final waste depositories is largely unknown and costs might spiral over time. Reactor lifespans are measured in decades, which means financing costs and provisions depend strongly on unpredictable interest rate levels.

“The IEA estimate is, without question, just a figure drawn out of the air. The reality is, the costs are quite phenomenal,” said Paul Dorfman  honorary senior research associate at the Energy Institute, University College London………

The IEA’s Baroni said the issue was not the exact cost per reactor.

“What matters is whether enough funds have been set aside to provide for it,” he said. (Additional reporting by Vera Eckert in Frankfurt, Svetlana Burmistrova in Moscow, Scott DiSavino in New York and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Dale Hudson) http://www.businessinsider.com.au/r-global-nuclear-decommissioning-cost-seen-underestimated-may-spiral-2015-1

 

January 20, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

Nations make (optimistic) guesses at the cost of getting rid of old nuclear reactors

Getting Rid Of Old Nuclear Reactors Worldwide Is Going To Cost Way More Than People Think Business Insider,  NINA CHESTNEYGEERT DE CLERCQ LONDON/PARIS (Reuters)  20 Jan 15 –”…….The U.S. Flag-USANuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that the cost of decommissioning in the United States – which has some 100 reactors – ranges from $US300 million to $US400 million per reactor, but some reactors might cost much more.

flag-franceFrance’s top public auditor and the nuclear safety authority estimate the country’s decommissioning costs at between 28 billion and 32 billion euros ($US32-37 billion).

flag_germanyGerman utilities – such as E.ON, which last month said it would split in two, spinning off power plants to focus on renewable energy and power grids – have put aside 36 billion euros..

flag-UKBritain’s bill for decommissioning and waste disposal is now estimated at 110 billion pounds ($US167 billion) over the next 100 years, double the 50 billion pound estimate made 10 years ago.

flag-japanJapanese government estimates put the decommissioning cost of the country’s 48 reactors at around $US30 billion, but this is seen as conservative. Russia has 33 reactors and costs are seen ranging from $US500 million to $US1 billion per reactor……… http://www.businessinsider.com.au/r-global-nuclear-decommissioning-cost-seen-underestimated-may-spiral-2015-1

January 20, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, Reference | Leave a comment

Japan’s electricity consumers to pay half the $180+ cost of dismantling each nuclear reactor

nuke-reactor-deadflag-japanJapanese electric power consumers to share NPP dismantling costs  It costs at least $180 million to decommission one reactor TOKYO, January 14. /TASS/. The costs of dismantling of outdated or unsafe nuclear power plants in Japan will be equally shared by the country’s electric power consumers, a working group of the economy, trade and industry ministry said on Wednesday………The government said nuclear power plants will be decommissioned when their authorized 40-year lifespans expire. Some 5 reactors are expected to be dismantled and the plans will be officially announced next month.

The loss due to decommissioning of one reactor is estimated at least at $180 million. Such expenses could deal a serious economic blow to private companies, which own the power reactors, and weaken the country’s economy in general.

Japan’s energy companies have submitted applications for another 19 reactors to resume their operations, but the process has been slowed down by safety checks and paperwork…….http://itar-tass.com/en/world/771074

January 16, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment

Entergy can’t afford, for decades, to dismantle Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant Begins Slow Process of Closing, NYT  By JAN. 4, 2015 “………..The Entergy Corporation, a Louisiana-based energy company that operates nuclear plants around the country, purchased Vermont Yankee in 2002. The plant had withstood opposition from activists since it opened, but from 2007 to 2010, the collapse of a cooling tower, radioactive tritium leaks and misstatements from plant executives that had preceded them further eroded public confidence in the company.

State legislators tried to close the plant, but a judge ruled in 2012 that they could not. Shortly after that decision was upheld, in August 2013, Entergy announced it would nevertheless close the plant, citing economics.

“It became pretty clear that we could not, this would not be a financially viable resource going forward,” said Bill Mohl, the president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, which owns the plant, last week. He cited the plant’s small size, the low cost of natural gas for producing electricity and other issues with the market.

 He said it was not politics, although many who live here believe that the political environment made it harder to operate the plant.

“This plant, this area, ranks right up there with the highest antinuke sentiment across the entire country,” said Mr. Farabaugh, who worked in five other plants around the nation before coming to Vermont Yankee.

nuke-reactor-deadEntergy projects it will cost $1.2 billion to decommission Vermont Yankee, but its trust fund has about half of that, so the full dismantling of the plant will not begin for decades. Meanwhile, the operators will turn to the mammoth task of cooling, storing and securing the spent fuel there.

Federal law requires the government to develop a long-term storage facility for nuclear waste, but there is currently no plan in place. So the spent fuel at Vermont Yankee, like at closed nuclear facilities around the country, will stay on site, and officials say it will be safe.

The prospect of the plant’s future as a nuclear storage facility worries many of the area’s activists, like Clay Turnbull, the president of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution, which is based in Brattleboro.

“It’s good that they’re not splitting atoms now, that’s very good, but we have 42 years of high-level waste that is far more dangerous if it were released to the environment than what would be in the reactor,” Mr. Turnbull said http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/05/us/vermont-yankee-nuclear-plant-begins-slow-process-of-closing.html?_r=0

January 7, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Vermont Yankee has only half the $1.24B needed to get rid of the nuclear plant corpse

nuke-reactor-deadNuclear plant predicts $1.24B decommissioning cost http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2014/12/nuclear-plant-predicts-1-24b-decommissioning-cost.html?cmpid=enl-poe-weekly-december-22-2014 12/22/2014 MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has made formal its prediction that decommissioning the reactor will cost $1.24 billion.

The soon-to-close plant announced that cost estimate in October and repeated it Friday in documents filed with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The plant currently has about half that amount saved up to dismantle the reactor and complete other tasks. It’s expected to be at least the early 2040s before the fund has grown enough to pay for full decommissioning.

Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Corp. announced in August of 2013 that it would shut down at the end of this year because the plant was no longer economical to operate.

December 31, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chief warns that Commission is not geared for needs of decommissioning

Macfarlane, AllisonNuclear Agency Rules Are Ill-Suited for Plant Decommissioning, Leader Says NYT By NOV. 17, 2014 WASHINGTON — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s rules are not geared for supervising the decommissioning of nuclear reactors, the task that will occupy much of its time in the coming years, the head of the agency, Allison M. Macfarlane, said Monday.

Speaking at the National Press Club in a wide-ranging look at her agency and the industry before she leaves the job at the end of the year, Dr. Macfarlane said the industry had instead set itself up about 15 years ago to oversee more reactor construction, a revival that did not occur. “The industry was really expecting to expand,” she said. “The agency’s not facing the future that five years ago people envisioned.”

Instead, a plunging price of natural gas and slack demand for electricity have made some existing plants uncompetitive, and the pace of retirements has been high. But the commission’s rules on areas like security and emergency planning are geared to operating plants, she said. So shut-down plants are applying for exemptions to the rules that no longer seem to fit the risk that the reactors pose when decommissioned.

As with nuclear waste, the commission’s rules on reactors seem more focused on construction and operation than on the “back end,” said Dr. Macfarlane, a geologist who is returning to academia.

Decommissioning

In her comments, Dr. Macfarlane said that the future of a proposed nuclear waste repository near Las Vegas, blocked for years by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada as majority leader, was still far from assured, despite the coming change of party control in the Senate. The commission’s job would be to rule on whether the repository should be licensed, but it could never approve a license without “a willing applicant,” she said.

That applicant would be the Department of Energy, which dropped work on the project after a campaign promise by Barack Obama when he ran for president the first time.

To resume work on the proposed repository, at Yucca Mountain, the Energy Department and the commission would need a new appropriation, she said. And at the time work was stopped, in 2010, “there were more than 300 contentions challenging the application,” she said. Each must be argued before a panel of administrative law judges.

And even then, she noted, Yucca Mountain would not be big enough for all the waste.

In light of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011 in Japan, Dr. Macfarlane said that the commission should consider new rules on some reactors whose design does not resemble the ones that melted down in Japan. The commission has required older plants of the General Electric design to improve their systems for venting gases in an emergency, but perhaps other models should have to do the same, she said……..http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/18/us/nuclear-agency-rules-are-ill-suited-for-plant-decommissioning-leader-says.html?_r=0

November 19, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Even the pro nukes know that burying dead nuclear reactors is a growing and massively costly problem

World Energy Outlook Warns Nuclear Industry On Decommissioning And Disposal 12 Nov (NucNet): The nuclear energy industry needs to be ready to manage “an unprecedented rate” of decommissioning with almost 200 of the 434 reactors that were operating commercially at the end of 2013 to be retired by 2040, a report by the International Energy Agency says. World Energy Outlook 2014 (WEO), released today in London, says “the vast majority” of these reactor retirements will be in the European Union, the US, Russia and Japan. … The IEA estimates the cost of decommissioning plants that are retired to be more than $100 billion.

Decommissioning

But WEO warns that “considerable uncertainties” remain about these costs, reflecting the relatively limited experience to date in dismantling and decontaminating reactors and restoring sites for other uses.
Regulators and utilities need to continue to ensure that adequate funds are set aside to cover these future expenses, WEO says.
It also warns that all countries which have ever had nuclear generation facilities have an obligation to develop solutions for long-term storage.
In one scenario examined in WEO, the cumulative amount of spent nuclear fuel that has been generated (a significant portion of which becomes high-level radioactive waste) more than doubles, reaching 705,000 tonnes in 2040.

Today – 60 years since the first nuclear reactor started operating – no country has yet established permanent facilities for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste from commercial reactors, which continues to build up in temporary storage, WEO says..

November 15, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

20 years, $4.5 billion minimum to get rid of San Onofre nuclear power plant

nuclear-plant-San-OnofreShutting down San Onofre to take 20 years, cost $4.4B, NRC says http://fox5sandiego.com/2014/10/28/shutting-down-san-onofre-to-take-20-years-cost-4-4b-nrc-says/ , OCTOBER 28, 2014, BY   SAN DIEGO- IT WILL TAKE 20 YEARS AND COST $4.4 BILLION TO DECOMMISSION THE SAN ONOFRE NUCLEAR POWER STATION, REGULATORS SAY.

Activists and residents peppered the members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Monday with pointed questions about the decommissioning process. “How can you tell us a price when you can’t even tell us how long the waste will be there,” asked a woman at the meeting.

San Clemente resident Rochelle Becker said she thinks the process will end up costing much more than the commission’s estimate.

“The NRC has never met a budget. Why in the world should they now?” Becker asked rhetorically.

While the commission estimated that it would take 20 years to decommission the reactor, that doesn’t include removing the plant’s spent nuclear fuel rods. The spent nuclear waste will remain on the property for up to 100 years, under the current plan.

There is no federal nuclear waste storage site, so every nuclear reactor faces the same problem. At the end of their life cycle, nuclear power plant will become nuclear waste storage sites until that changes, according to the commission.

October 29, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor | Leave a comment

At least 4 years to scrap nuclear reactor barge

NUCLEAR-REACTOR SHIP HEADED TO GALVESTON TO BE SCRAPPED Kristi Nix, The Pasadena CitizenMonday, October 20, 2014 GALVESTON, TX –

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers recently announced plans to tow a World War II-era Liberty ship converted to a barge-mounted nuclear reactor to Galveston from Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia to be scrapped. The barge is expected to arrive at the Malin International Shipyard in mid-December……..The entire process is expected to less than four years, but the details of the scrapping operation once the USS Sturgis arrives in Galveston have not been finalized, officials said. http://abc13.com/news/nuclear-reactor-ship-headed-to-galveston-to-be-scrapped/358319/

October 21, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Heavy task to dismantle San Onofre’s dead nuclear power plant

san-onofre-deadfCountdown to dismantling San Onofre  UT San Diego By Morgan Lee .OCT. 13, 2014 Heavy work on dismantling the San Onofre nuclear plant may be just three months away.

Today, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission intends to set in motion the 90-day countdown for major decommissioning activities by confirming receipt of detailed plans for the project, known as a “post-shutdown decommissioning activities report,” from San Onofre operator Southern California Edison. The notice will be published in the Federal Register.

Edison wants to restore most of the Navy-owned site in northern San Diego County during the next 20 years, a relatively quick schedule. The federal government allows up to 60 years for decommissioning, so that high-level radiation can dissipate.

The commission will conduct a public meeting to discuss Edison’s decommissioning plan, cost estimates and related environmental impacts on Oct. 27 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Omni La Costa in Carlsbad. Beyond the meeting, written comments on the dismantling issue are due to the agency by Dec. 22.

Edison said the job will cost about $4.4 billion. The company announced in June that enough money has been set aside in trust accounts over recent decades to pay for the project.

The utility company is seeking authority to tap decommissioning funds to pay for most San Onofre-related expenses since the facility’s retirement was announced in June 2013.

It also is asking for permission from state utility regulators to cease annual collections of $23 million from its customers that are meant for the trust accounts — and to refund at least $17 million of that money……..http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/13/countdown-san-onofre-decomissioning/

October 15, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear decommissioning costs shooting up in Sweden

nuke-reactor-deadSweden plans big rise in fees to nuclear decommissioning fund http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/business/sweden-plans-big-rise-in-fees-to-nuclear-decommissioning-fund/articleshow/37335517.cms By Reuters | 27 Jun, 2014  OSLO: Sweden on Friday proposed a sharp rise in fees nuclear power producers have to pay the country’s nuclear decommissioning fund, saying previous cost estimates were too low.

Sweden has three nuclear power plants with ten reactors in operation, generating about 40 per cent of the country’s electricity needs. The oldest reactors are expected to be shut at the beginning of the next decade.

OSLO: Sweden on Friday proposed a sharp rise in fees nuclear power producers have to pay the country’s nuclear decommissioning fund, saying previous cost estimates were too low.  The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) said it has proposed raising fees by 73 per cent to 0.038 crowns ($0.01) per kilowatt-hour from 0.022 crowns for 2015.

The nuclear power industry pays fees to the Nuclear Waste Fund to prepare for the future decommissioning of plants and storage of spent nuclear fuel.

It said the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB) had to recalculate fees to the nuclear decommissioning fund for the period of 2016-2017.
“The SSM has assessed that the costs for decommissioning and final disposal for the Swedish nuclear power industry may be underestimated by SKB by at least 11 billion Swedish crowns ($1.63 billion),” the authority said in a statement.

Sweden’s state-owned utility Vattenfall operates seven reactors and Germany’s E.ON three.  Finnish utility Fortum has stakes in six Swedish nuclear reactors.

June 28, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, Sweden | 1 Comment

Problems in nuclear reactor decommissioning thrashed out in US Senate hearing

DecommissioningSenate Hearing on Nuclear Reactor Decommissioning Challenges  Energy Collective May 22, 2014 Bemnet Alemayehu, Project Scientist, Nuclear Program, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s Environment & Public Works Committee held a hearing on Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 to assess the challenges of nuclear reactor decommissioning nationwide. Panelists called to testify at Wednesday’s senate hearing included Christopher Recchia, Public Service Department Commissioner of Vermont, Geoffrey Fettus, Senior attorney of NRDC,  Donald Mosier, Council Member of the City of Del Mar, Michael Weber, Deputy Executive Director for Compliance Programs of NRC and Marvin Fertel, President & Chief Executive Officer of NEI.

Christopher Recchia’s testimony to the senate opposed a request by operators of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to discontinue off-site emergency planning after the reactor shuts down.  He argued that the off-site emergency planning should continue after the reactor shuts down until all of the plant’s spent fuel rods are removed from pools and placed in dry cask storage. ……… Continue reading

May 23, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, politics, USA | Leave a comment

German government will not pay costs of burying dead reactors

coffin-reactorGermany’s Gabriel says state won’t pay for nuclear decommissioning http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/18/uk-germany-energy-nuclear-idUKKBN0DY0EM20140518  BERLIN Sun May 18, (Reuters) - Germany‘s economy minister has joined Angela Merkel in rejecting talk that utilities might hand over responsibility for decommissioning Germany’s nuclear powerplants to a new public entity, as the projected costs of decommissioning rise.

“It should not be tax payers who pay for the clean-up of atomic waste but rather those who made money for decades through running nuclear power stations,” Sigmar Gabriel told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag in an interview published on Sunday.

Two sources told Reuters last weekend that utilities were in talks with the government about setting up a “bad bank” for nuclear plants, in response to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to close them all by 2022 after the Fukushima disaster.

The foundation would use provisions earmarked by the nuclear plant operators but would also take on the risk of unforeseen extra costs, effectively capping the utilities’ liability.

The Environment Ministry said last week the utilities bore full responsibility for safely decommissioning and dismantling the nine nuclear power plants still on the grid.

One of the sources had told Reuters that if the state takes over responsibility for the decommissioning, the utilities might be willing to drop their legal claims against the government for compensation for having to shut the plants. The four operators of nuclear plants in Germany – the German companies E.ON (EONGn.DE), RWE (RWEG.DE) and EnBW (EBKG.DE) and Sweden’s Vattenfall VATN.UL – have set aside total provisions of around 36 billion euros (29.3 billion pounds) for dismantling the plants and disposing of nuclear waste.

Germany’s Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday that government experts predicted a possible shortfall of 3.5 billion euros for the clean up, as costs had risen sharply.  (Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Larry King)

May 19, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, Germany, politics | Leave a comment

Complex arrangements – a “bad bank” for Germany’s dead nuclear reactors

nuke-reactor-deadA bad bank for nuclear, as public assumes risk for closure costs http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/a-bad-bank-for-nuclear-as-public-assumes-risk-for-closure-costs-39365 By  on 16 May 2014 Energy Transition Over the weekend, there were reports of talks about the creation of a “bad bank” for German nuclear plants, which are to be shut down successively by the end of 2022.

Critics charge that the proposal is yet another attempt to privatize profits and nationalize losses. But Craig Morris has a bit more understanding for the firms’ position. At the end of February, the German hard coal sector made a proposal that revealed the sector’s actual situation: a bad bank. We continue to hear many reports about coal making a comeback in Germany, but in reality the uptick in 2013 will prove to be short-lived; coal power is already dramatically down in Q1 2014. And going forwards, hard coal in particular will be squeezed out even during the nuclear phaseout.

Now, the firms that run coal and nuclear plants think the idea might be useful to them during the nuclear phaseout. A quick glance at the idea is enough to make your hair stand on end, and the comments on German news websites (such as here – in German) are filled with outrage:

    • The provisions set aside for the dismantling of the nuclear plants would be transferred to a state-owned foundation (the bad bank), which would then use the money for the phaseout.
    • The government – meaning “the public” – would then run the risks, specifically if the costs exceed the provisions.
    • In return, the power firms would drop their lawsuits against the German government with the ICSID (International Centre for Settlement and Disputes) settlements court in DC. Sweden’s Vattenfall has a minority holding in the Brokdorf nuclear plant in Germany along with Eon and is suing the German government in DC.
    • Surprisingly, while Eon and EnBW (Vattenfall is apparently not involved in the negotiations for a bad bank) would be able to hand over their provisions, RWE would reportedly need a capital increase – has the firm spent its nuclear provisions on something else?

The case of Vattenfall is especially interesting. In the fall of 2010, the German government reneged on the original nuclear phaseout agreement of 2002 and extended the service lives of nuclear plants by 8 to 14 years, depending on the plant. In return, the government imposed a tax on the nuclear fuel rods to be consumed – allegedly to prevent windfall profits. But after Fukushima – only a few months later – those power plant extensions were revoked, but the tax remained.

In all likelihood, the four utilities agreed that the foreigner – Vattenfall, the one with the smallest nuclear assets – would “test the waters” and see whether a court case against the nuclear tax could be won. Last month, a German court ruled that the nuclear tax was illegal, so the current negotiations may be taking place against that backdrop.

There are, however, different readings of who wants what now. German economics daily Handelsblatt writes in its newsletter on Monday that “the government in Berlin wants to have the roughly 35 billion euros in nuclear provisions from Eon, RWE, EnBW, and Vattenfall,” the four utilities that run nuclear plants and Germany. This report in English at the Financial Times also makes it sound like the German government has plans of its own.

Technically, of course, the public already runs the risks. If anything goes wrong, the liability of these firms is limited. And while this limited liability has often been decried as unfair, we should keep in mind that the power firms themselves – from the US to Germany – never wanted to build nuclear plants. The nuclear power sector was originally an attempt to make the production of nuclear weapons more palatable to the public. The power sector wanted nothing to do with the technology, which they did not understand and did not trust. Once the government had limited their liability, they essentially began building the kind of power plants they understood but merely boiled the water with nuclear fuel rods instead of coal. Some 50 years ago, RWE in particular felt that nuclear would conflict with its fleet of coal plants. The result is hundreds of nuclear plants of crappy design, with numerous design options having barely been investigated.

The German government thus forced these companies into nuclear decades ago and now it is forcing them out. All of this is unfair to these firms. It’s also unfair to the German public, which never asked for nuclear power but has to pay for the entire mess. Whatever the outcome, perhaps the main argument against nuclear is that it’s hard to do it fairly.

 

May 17, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

Huge and worrying task of cleaning up Zion Nuclear Plant

DecommissioningFlag-USADecommissioning Of Zion Nuclear Plant Raises Safety Concerns ZION, Ill. (CBS) 15 May 14. — It’s the largest closing of a nuclear plant in the United States, and it’s right in our backyard. The most critical and dangerous part of the process at Zion is underway right now with the transfer of used nuclear fuel. CBS 2’s Jim Williams is the only local TV reporter allowed inside to see firsthand what’s going on and to get answers to concerns about safety in this original report. For us, it was a first: an interview right next to a worker holding a radiation detector………….

The plant stopped operating 16 years ago, but what was left behind is so toxic robots were brought in.

“You don’t want men in there using hand tools and torches,” said Sauger.

By train and truck, they’re shipping the less hazardous material to Texas, Tennessee and Utah where it will be buried.

Dan Pryor is the project manager. He described the less hazardous material as “filters, rags, mops; things that might have been in contact with radiated material and might be contaminated.”

But spent nuclear fuel that had been in this cooling pool is being placed in steel cylinders called casks and then encased in concrete. Dave Kraft of the Nuclear Energy Information Service said, “We call this the nuclear bowling alley,” because all 65 casks will end up together above ground next to the old plant.

Kraft fears they could be a prime target for terrorists in a plane.

“If you have a huge fire from a burning airliner for example, It’s going to affect everything around,” said Kraft.

Kraft and Paul Kakuris, of the Dunesland Preservation Society worry the casks could break open, releasing radiation across the Chicago area and poisoning the Lake.

“We are at risk here. This is the water supply for 20 million people,” said Kakuris………Today, the casks are surrounded by high fences and razor wire. Heavily armed security guards are everywhere there. Still, it’s not enough to satisfy the critics.

“You only get one chance to be wrong,” said Kraft.

Another safety concern is how will those steel and concrete casks hold up over time before a permanent storage site is created? The nuclear regulatory commission expects them to be replaced in 100 years. But, environmentalists fear those casks may wind up sitting there next to Lake Michigan for much longer than that. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/05/14/decommissioning-of-zion-nuclear-plant-raises-safety-concerns/

May 16, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

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