The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear giants AREVA and Hitachi to help dismantle Japan’s nuclear recators

French group to help Japan dismantle nuclear reactors November 26, 2015   French nuclear giant Areva said Thursday it had linked up with Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy to help Japan dismantle boiling-water nuclear power stations. Following a massive accident at the Fukushima reactor, hit by a tsunami in 2011, Japan said it would shut down 11 nuclear reactors, although it has put two back on stream this year.

Areva was involved in the Fukushima clean-up, but that reactor is not covered by the new agreement, the French group said in a statement. It has been working with Hitachi to improve Japanese reactors’ safety for the past two years.

Areva’s role will now be to participate in preliminary studies for dismantling boiling-water reactors.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has been pushing for a return to nuclear  to generate electricity after Japan’s several dozen  went offline in the wake of the 2011 disaster.

The resource-poor nation’s energy bill has soared since it was forced to turn to fossil-fuel imports to plug the gap.

But the Japanese public remains wary of atomic power, and Abe’s push has prompted rare protests and damaged his popularity.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, France, Japan | Leave a comment

Europe’s nuclear companies face multi $billion burden in disposing of dead nuclear reactors

Standard & Poor’s: Dismantling Europe’s old nuclear power plants will run up a €100bn bill for EDF, E.ON, RWE and others 19 November 2015 by Jessica Morris Dismantling Europe’s old, uneconomic power plants will impose heavy costs on Europe’s biggest operators, something which could strain their balance sheets, and hit their credit rating.


Nuclear liabilities of the largest eight nuclear plant operators in Europe totaled €100bn at the end of last year, representing around 22 per cent of their aggregate debt, according to credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s.

Operators are legally responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants, a process which can take several decades to implement, meaning the associated costs are high. Europe’s main nuclear operators include France’s EDF, Germany’s E.ON and RWE. They are legally responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants, a process which can take several decades to implement, meaning the associated costs are high.

While the analysis by S&P treats nuclear liabilities as debt-like obligations, it recognises that several features differentiate them from traditional debt. But given the size of the liabilities against a company’s debt, they can impact a company’s credit metrics, and their credit rating.

The report noted that a company’s nuclear provisions are difficult to quantify, as well as cross compare, because accounting methods vary between different countries. It also foresees many operational challenges ahead, including a reality check on costs and execution capabilities.

November 20, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Barsebäck nuclear power plant to be dismantled – good business for Westinghouse?

Westinghouse Electric to dismantle Barsebäck nuclear power plant Located just 20 kilometers from Copenhagen, the plant ceased operation already in 2005 November 6th, 2015 12:10 pm| by Lucie Rychla

Westinghouse Electric Company has been hired to dismantle the Barsebäck nuclear power plant, located just 20 km from Copenhagen in Skåne, Sweden.
 Demolition of the plant’s inner reactor tanks will begin next summer and is expected to take four years, reported Ingeniøren.

According to Westinghouse, the company will dismantle, segment and package the reactor pressure vessel internals for final disposal – a process that significantly reduces the radioactivity remaining in the plant since it was shut down.

No more nuclear energy
Barsebäck is a boiling water nuclear power plant with two units, which began commercial operation in May 1975 and June 1977. Barsebäck Unit One was shut down in 1999, 17 years before its planned life expectancy, and Barsebäck Unit Two ceased operation in May 2005.

In 1980, the Swedish parliament decided not to build any new nuclear power plants in the country and to phase out existing plants by 2010, following a referendum that took place after the Three Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania.

November 7, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Banking-industry style regulation needed for Europe’s nuclear decommissioning costs

DecommissioningEU regulation of nuclear decommissioning costs needed -Capgemini Europe needs banking-industry style regulation to bring more transparency to the costs of nuclear reactors, consultancy Capgemini said in its annual energy market report.

Capgemini said gross provisions for decommissioning and long-term spent fuel management work out at 4.7 billion euros ($5.2 billion) per reactor in Germany, compared to just 1.2 billion in France and 3.38 billion euros in Britain.

Even if France’s nuclear fleet of 58 reactors is much bigger than Germany’s 17 reactors, economies of scale from the standardization of processes look too big to account for such a difference by themselves, according to Capgemini.

“Establishing what methodology is used to estimate the overall cost is essential, but it is never explained in annual reports, with each player relying on the estimates of their own experts in that area,” Capgemini said.

Nuclear operators like France’s EDF, Germany’s E.ON and RWE and Sweden’s Vattenfall all use different discount and inflation rates to calculate the present value of long-term liabilities and the parameters for these calculations are left to individual companies to decide, the consultancy said. “For obvious reasons to do with transparency, it is urgent that a process be instituted at European level … similar to the international regulatory framework for banks (Basel III) following the financial crisis that affected most European countries,” Capgemini said.

There are also strong disparities with regards to nuclear operators’ legal obligations in terms of covering these future costs, it said.

Only Finland’s Fortum, Vattenfall (for its Swedish activities), EDF and the Czech Republic’s CEZ have portfolios dedicated to the financing of these long-term obligations, with coverage ratios of 100, 78, 68 and 31 percent respectively, Capgemini said.

Other sector players do not have dedicated assets on their balance sheets, and German utilities currently do not cover their provisions, it added.

Last month, E.ON dropped plans to spin off its German nuclear power plants, bowing to political pressure to retain liability for billions of euros of decommissioning costs when the plants are shut down.

The International Energy Agency said late last year that almost 200 of the world’s 434 reactors in operation would be retired by 2040, and estimated the decommissioning cost at more than $100 billion, but many experts view this figure as way too low. ($1 = 0.9057 euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Susan Fenton)

November 4, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, EUROPE | Leave a comment

NRC allows nuclear companies to use decommissioning funds for waste storage, violating rules


It violates Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules for the plants to take money from their decommissioning trust funds to pay for building the concrete pads and rows of concrete and steel casks where waste is stored after it is cooled in special storage pools. But the NRC is granting exemptions from those rules every time it is asked.

“All of the plants that have permanently shut down in recent years have sought, and been approved for, the use of decommissioning funds for spent fuel storage costs,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan wrote in an email in response to questions from The Associated Press this past week.


These include the Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin, San Onofre 1 and 2 in California, Crystal River 3 in Florida, and Vermont Yankee in Vernon, in Vermont’s southeast corner, which closed at the end of last year. The Zion 1 and 2 reactors in Illinois, which shut down in the late 1990s, had gotten a similar OK to use decommissioning money for spent fuel storage, Sheehan said.

Ratepayers chipped in during nuclear plants’ lives to set aside the money it would take eventually to tear down reactors, remove their radioactive components and restore the sites. It was not envisioned they also would have to pay for indefinite storage of spent fuel on the roughly 100 nuclear plant sites around the country.

And long-term, on-site storage of nuclear waste is a bad idea, said Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry executive turned consultant who frequently criticizes the industry.

“You build power plants near water because you have to cool them, and you build nuclear waste storage sites away from water” because of the threat of radioactive materials reaching it, Gundersen said

“It would be much better to get the stuff underground where terrorists couldn’t fly a plane into it,” he said.

Nuclear industry spokespeople, government officials and industry critics agree the retirement fund raids have been triggered by the failure to date of the U.S. Department of Energy to open a permanent disposal site for spent nuclear fuel. For years, the government had been planning a disposal site at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, but that plan has been scuttled by a lack of funding from Congress.

That has left reactors redesigning the racks in their spent fuel pools to accommodate more of the waste and expanding into “dry cask” storage, both of which Vermont Yankee did in the years before its owner, Entergy Corp., closed the plant at the end of last year because it was becoming less competitive against electricity generated with cheap natural gas.

The spent fuel bottleneck leaves closed and soon-to-close nuclear plants with the prospect that for the indefinite future, they will look like the site of the former Maine Yankee plant. That plant was permanently shut down in 1997, nearly two decades ago. Today, the reactor is gone, but the site in the coastal town of Wiscasset still features 60 steel canisters encased in concrete that contain the 550 metric tons of spent fuel the plant generated in its 25-year life. The site is guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week………..

October 26, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

A year later, uncertainty over management of Vermont Yankee’s radioactive trash

nuke-reactor-deadNearly A Year After Shutdown, Vermont Yankee Continues To Spark Debate  &  • OCT 12, 2015 Almost a year after its shutdown, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is still sparking debate over safety, spending and the disposal of nuclear waste.

Vermont Edition spoke to Susan Smallheer, a reporter with theRutland Herald, about what’s been happening since the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant shut down last December, as well as the back and forth between Entergy Corporation and the state of Vermont as mediated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

On what’s currently happening at the plant

Entergy is putting a majority of buildings in what is called “safe and dark” mode, and demolishing minor buildings. Ultimately, they are preparing to transfer fuel from the spent pool into a facility that will begin construction in 2016.

“That will hold the spent nuclear from Vermont Yankee until the year 2052, when Entergy is expecting the Department of Energy to take away the fuel,” says Smallheer.

Uncertainties arise when discussing where this spent fuel will be held next. Vermont and Vermont Yankee have a contract with a Texas facility, owned privately by Waste Control Specialists, which holds a federal permit until 2045. According to filings that Entergy has made with the NRC, Vermont Yankee does not expect to begin deconstruction until 2068.

“Vermont Yankee has to be demolished, decommissioned and decontaminated before the waste can be shipped to Texas,” says Smallheer.

On how decommissioning funds are being spent

A point of contention for the state and Entergy is how Entergy Vermont Yankee is spending money from the  decommissioning  trust fund, which had reached approximately $660 million as of the shutdown.

“Now it’s down to about $600 million,” says Smallheer. “Yankee has made quite a few withdrawals with this so-called 30-day notification to the NRC, which is how the state of Vermont learns about it.”

The state claims that Entergy is not providing enough information on how these funds are being spent. “Vermont has a very vested interest in not only getting the plant decommissioned as quickly as possible, because Entergy said they’ll start decommissioning as long as there’s adequate funds in the decommissioning trust fund, but because whatever’s leftover goes back to Vermont ratepayers who started the fund,” says Smallheer.

“[The state] needs to know how [Entergy] is spending it, and if they can say it’s being spent wisely,” says Smallheer.

October 17, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

New York nuclear stations can’t afford costly shutdowns – so prolong decommissioning

highly-recommendedFlag-USANew York nuclear plants phase out, challengingly  One doesn’t have look hard in New York and throughout the region to see that the nuclear power industry has hit a rough patch.

The James FitzPatrick nuclear plant in Oswego County may be closing. The Ginna plant is on life support. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he wants to close Indian Point.

Those closings and potential closings, combined with closure of Vermont Yankee in December and the announcement this month that Pilgrim in Massachusetts would be shuttered, herald what nuclear experts say is a denouement to the story of nuclear power in the United States.


“I would call it an organic phaseout,” said Mycle Schneider, a nuclear consultant based in Paris, during a conference at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on Thursday. “Nuclear’s position is threatened by a number of factors.”

Among those threats, he and others said, are the increasing costs of safely providing nuclear power, stagnant demand, a decrease in electricity use, and “ferocious competitors,” including natural gas and renewable power.

The question for state and federal regulators becomes how to safely and efficiently retire the nation’s nuclear fleet, a task infinitely more complex than getting rid of a typical power plant. Continue reading

October 16, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Closure of Pilgrim nuclear station opens a new era of costly, dangerous, radioactive trash clean-up

nuke-reactor-deadDecommissioning Pilgrim could take decades, millions Boston Globe By Nestor Ramos and  GLOBE STAFF  OCTOBER 13, 2015 Shutting off the power at a nuclear plant takes only a few minutes. But decommissioning one — safely removing and storing dangerous radioactive material and closing down the plant for good — can take decades.

In announcing Tuesday that it planned to close the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, owner Entergy Corp. revealed few details about how it plans to decommission its aging plant in Plymouth, rated among the least safe in the country. But recent history at nuclear plants in New England and beyond suggests that the process could be long, contentious and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Entergy has 60 years to close the plant, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission guidelines, and that clock may not even start running until 2019, the year by which the company plans to cease operations at Pilgrim. That means it could be 2079 before radioactivity is reduced to safe levels — the ultimate goal of decommissioning.

Company officials say Pilgrim shouldn’t take that long. “We don’t intend to wait until 60 years,” said Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, which oversees most of its nuclear plants.

Still, decommissioning any nuclear power plant takes time. Giant industrial edifices such as the reactor, where the fuel generates heat that is converted to steam, would be difficult to dismantle even if they were not brittle and dangerously radioactive. Radioactive nuclear fuel must remain in storage pools for years after the plant has ceased to generate power.

And even after the fuel is stowed in giant canisters called dry casks, deciding where to store the nuclear waste is still tied up by debate in Washington, and remains years away.

“It’s going to take years in any event,” said Geoffrey Fettus, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s very complicated, very expensive industrial cleanup.” Continue reading

October 16, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Germany says nuclear utilities can pay for decommissioning reactors

DecommissioningGermany Says Utilities’ Reserves Adequate for Nuclear-Power   Exit In wake of Fukushima, country plans to exit nuclear power by 2022    By STEFAN LANGE And MONICA HOUSTON-WAESCH Oct. 10, 2015 FRANKFURT—German utilities’ reserves for the country’s planned exit from nuclear power are adequate, the ministry for economics and energy said, citing a government-commissioned report on the matter.

“The affected companies have fully covered the costs with the designated provisions,” economics minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement.

The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy had called for the stress test to determine whether utilities’ reserves are up to the task of financing nuclear waste and the decommissioning of plants. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would exit nuclear power by 2022, taking utilities by surprise. In the interim, politicians have voiced concern that nuclear operators could try to duck the long-term costs, leaving taxpayers with the bill.

Existing reserves for the country’s nuclear exit amount to €38.3 billion, the report said. In a worse-case scenario, costs could come to as much as €77 billion, however this assumes an average interest rate of a negative 1.6% until the year 2099, a highly unlikely event, the report noted.

Utilities have said that since the government supported the construction of nuclear facilities, it should also participate in dismantling them. Earlier this month, the economics ministry dashed those hopes.

“There will be no state assistance,” a ministry spokeswoman said on Oct. 5.

Separately, Germany’s cabinet is due to pass a draft law within days, giving utilities longer-lasting liabilities for the costs of a nuclear exit. In mid-September, shares of RWE AG and E.ON SE, the two largest utilities in the country, plummeted over 10% amid speculation that initial results of the test showed utilities’ reserves were inadequate. At the time, Mr. Gabriel said no preliminary results were available, and that the stress test was just one factor of many in determining future policy.

At the end of 2014, E.ON had earmarked €16.6 billion, while RWE set aside €10.4 billion in reserves for the nuclear exit.

“In real terms, these are the highest provisions for an asset like this on the planet,” E.ON chief executive Johannes Teyssen said in September following his company’s decision to retain its German nuclear operations. E.ON has three nuclear plants in operation and minority stakes in a number of others.

Mr. Teyssen made the comments after the company scrapped plans to shift its nuclear operations to a new company, Uniper. E.ON will proceed with plans to split, moving conventional power, trading and exploration and production to Uniper, but E.ON will keep its German nuclear operations, it said. At the time, the company also said it expected a substantial net loss for the full year.

Write to Stefan Lange at and Monica Houston-Waesch at

October 12, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

21 years after shutdown, USA’s Experimental Breeder Nuclear Reactor-II (EBR-II) is entombed

USA’s Experimental Breeder Reactor-II now permanently entombed, World Nuclear News
01 July 2015 
The main clean-up contractor at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Idaho Site, has entombed an historic nuclear reactor in place and treated the reactor’s remaining sodium coolant….CH2M-WG, Idaho, LLC (CWI) said yesterday that crews with the Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) Program recently completed pouring more than 3400 cubic yards of concrete grout into the basement of the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II) building to fill in any remaining void spaces and effectively entomb the reactor.

Workers also removed and treated the last of the sodium coolant from the reactor’s nine heat exchangers. The exchangers were used to cool the liquid metal and direct the steam to a generating turbine to produce electricity when the reactor was operating.

The EBR-II was the basis of the US Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) program…….. The reactor was shut down in 1994 and its fuel was removed and transported to another site facility for safe storage.

The DOE grouted the reactor in place instead of removing it to protect workers from industrial hazards and radiological risks, CWI said. Crews filled the reactor vessel with grout over two years ago and recently completed the remainder of grouting at the facility under CWI’s contract.

July 18, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Reference, reprocessing, USA | Leave a comment

When France shuts its nuclear reactors, it will be left with a monumental radioactive trash problem

flag-franceFrench nuclear waste will triple after decommissioning: agency
PARIS The amount of nuclear waste stored in France will triple once all its nuclear installations have been decommissioned, which will boost the need for storage facilities, French nuclear waste agency Andra said.

In a report released on Wednesday, Andra estimated that final nuclear waste volumes will eventually reach 4.3 million cubic meters, up from 1.46 million at the end of 2013 and an estimated 2.5 million in 2030.

That is based on an average lifespan of 50 years for utility EDF’s 58 nuclear reactors and including a new reactor under construction in Flamanville. Most of that waste will be only slightly radioactive, such as building rubble and clothing used during decommissioning, but because of its bulk, it requires increasing amounts of space.


Andra, which publishes a nuclear waste inventory every three years, expects its low-level waste facility in Morvilliers, in the Aube region, would fill up between 2020 and 2025.

“We want to warn that the storage centers are filling up and that we need to optimize waste management because storage facilities are a rare resource,” Andra executive Michele Tallec told Reuters.

Volumes of highly radioactive, long-life waste – which represent just 0.2 percent of the volume but 98 percent of the radioactivity – should rise from 3,200 cubic meters at the end of 2013 to about 10,000 cubic meters when all France’s nuclear plants reach their end of life.

This waste is scheduled to be buried in the controversial deep-storage site in Bure, in eastern France, which already has a test facility but has not received any nuclear waste.

his year, Andra plans to present the French government and nuclear regulator ASN a technical dossier on Bure, which aims to bury nuclear waste 500 meters underground in thick layers of argillite rock, which Andra says will prevent most radioactive particles from traveling more than a few meters over hundreds of thousands of years.

Andra plans to put in a formal request to build the 35 billion euro facility – which faces resistance from environmental groups and local residents – in 2017 and hopes to start construction in 2020 with a view to open it for first testing in 2025.(Reporting by Benjamin Mallet and Michel Rose, writing by Geert De Clercq, editing by David Evans)

July 6, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, France, Reference | Leave a comment

German nuclear utilities don’t have enough money for decomissioning reactors

nuke-reactor-deadGerman utilities have ‘set aside too little’ for nuclear exit   Andrew Lee  May 28 2015 Provisions set aside by German utilities for nuclear decommissioning aren’t sufficient and should be transferred into a public fund for safe keeping, says a study by the respected DIW Berlin economic think-tank.

Germany’s top four utilities E.ON, RWE, EnBW, Vattenfall have set aside €38bn ($41.4bn) to pay for the decommissioning of the country’s remaining nuclear power stations and the final storage of highly radioactive waste.But preliminary estimates assume the costs for the nuclear decommissioning and waste storage to cost at least €50-70bn, the DIW says.

Also, the provisions aren’t protected from insolvencies, and the utilities could also try to escape their responsibility by restructuring their businesses, claim the authors of the DIW study – energy experts Claudia Kemfert, Christian von Hirschhausen and Cornelia Ziehm.

It is also questionable what value the provisions will have in a couple of years given the declining profitability of large utilities.”Seen these great risks, the provisions of the nuclear corporations should be transferred into a publicly administered fund as soon as possible,” von Hirschhausen proposes.

German utilities have always said their provisions for the nuclear exit are sufficient. But Germany’s largest utility, E.ON, late last year announced its split into a company for renewables, grids and customer solutions that will keep its current brand name, and another one to be named Uniper that will bundle its current nuclear and fossil activities.

Although debt-free at its onset next year, there are doubts whether Uniper can stay profitable over the long run, while the remaining E.ON may be exempt from the nuclear responsibility.

The DIW study also said that Germany’s electricity supply will be safe also after the last nuclear plant has been switched off in 2022 as the country currently is producing far more power than it needs, a situation that isn’t expected to change even with the nuclear phase-out.

E.ON will switch off its 1.3GW Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant in Bavaria state in the second half of next month. The 10 terawatt hours it produces per year can be compensated by coal and gas-fired energy, the DIW says. Separately, Vattenfall and E.ON today said they have closed a cooperation agreement for the decommissioning and dismantling process of joint nuclear plants.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

The nuclear decommissioning problem – a financial disaster looming

Decommissioningthe coming closures could drag on for decades and place unexpected burdens on investors, consumers or taxpayers.
U.S. nuclear dilemma: Reactors aging, decommissioning cash billions short, waste site eludes, Japan Times BY ISAAC ARNSDORFBLOOMBERG MAY 5, 2015 NEW YORK – At the edge of Humboldt Bay in Northern California lies a relic from the heyday of U.S. nuclear power. The reactor was shut down in 1976. The remaining cost to decommission the plant once and for all — cleaning up lingering radiological dangers, dismantling the remains — will be about $441 million, according to its owner, PG&E Corp.

The question is who will pay — for Humboldt Bay, and for dozens of other reactors that are in the process of closing or might soon.

text-wise-owlNuclear operators like PG&E are supposed to lay up enough money to cover the costs, similar to how corporations fund pensions. Turns out, most haven’t.

PG&E’s Humboldt Bay trust fund, for instance, is currently $308 million short, according to a company filing to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. PG&E customers will shoulder the cost in the form of higher electricity bills.

“Somebody’s got to pay for it — the money doesn’t come from magic,” said Allison M. Macfarlane, a former NRC chairman. Brittany McKannay, a PG&E spokeswoman, said the company is committed to operating and decommissioning its nuclear plants safely.

The U.S. nuclear industry is feeling its age. Once touted as a source of electricity that would be “too cheap to meter,” plants need expensive upgrades to protect them from terrorism and natural disasters.

At the same time, they face growing competition from renewables and natural gas. Five new reactors are under construction, but current economics give little incentive to build more. Looming is an unprecedented wave of closures.

Yet 82 of the 117 U.S. nuclear power plants, including seven in the process of shutting down, don’t have enough cash on hand to close safely, according to NRC records. And closing tends to cost more than operators expect. Based on NRC filings, the actual combined cost may be somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 billion — $43 billion more than the current balance of the trust funds.

So the coming closures could drag on for decades and place unexpected burdens on investors, consumers or taxpayers.

“The public has a right to demand that all nuclear power plant operators are secure in their funding,” Sen. Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement in response to questions from Bloomberg.

Among the underfunded plants are FirstEnergy Corp.’s Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, site of the 1979 partial meltdown, and Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point, about 35 miles north of New York City……..

May 6, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | 1 Comment

Exelon has 60 years in which to remove Oyster Creek’s 650 metric tons of spent fuel

Oyster Creek: After 2019, what then?, asbury park press, Randy Bergmann, @appopinion10 May 3, 2015 For people who had lived in the shadow of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey for decades, the news in 2009 that it was to close 10 years earlier than allowed under its license extension was warmly welcomed. Finally, the health and safety threats posed by the plant would be coming to an end.

Well, not really — at least no time soon.

That “good news” has been tempered by the fact plant owner Exelon, which agreed to mothball the reactor in exchange for the state not requiring it to install cooling towers, has up to 60 years to remove the Decommissioning from its elevated spent fuel pool, totally dismantle the plant and clean up the site.

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission rule change in 2011 extended the period in which closed nuclear reactors were allowed to decommission from 30 years to 60 years. Although Exelon has yet to establish a timetable for when that will be done, the company’s president and CEO, Christopher Crane, has said it will be no sooner than 10 years, as stipulated in its agreement with the state, and up to 60 years.

In some ways, the risks posed by a closed plant that has yet to be decommissioned can be as great as one that continues to operate and is closely monitored by the NRC.

What are the odds of a disaster occurring at Oyster Creek? They’re remote. But given the nightmarish consequences of such a disaster occurring at a site around which 4.5 million people reside within a 50-mile radius, they’re not remote enough for citizens and the state to sit back and allow the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has a well-deserved reputation as an industry lapdog, to dictate the process every step of the way……..

What is the likelihood of another major nuclear disaster occurring in the future?Researchers Spencer Wheatley and Didier Sornette at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Benjamin Sovacool at Aarhus University in Denmark last month calculated that there is a 50-50 chance a Chernobyl-like event or worse will occur in the next 27 years, a 50-50 chance another Fukushima event will take place within 50 years and a 50-50 chance a Three Mile Island-type event will take place within 10 years.

Long odds, for sure. But citizens and the state must do everything they can to ensure every step that can increase the margin of safety is taken.

Here are the top six reasons citizens, state and local officials and New Jersey’s federal representatives must pay close attention to the decommissioning of Oyster Creek:

1. The soonest the plant will be decommissioned under the agreement Exelon reached with the state to close the plant early is 2029. If Exelon chooses to close at the end of 60 years, Oyster Creek, the oldest commercial reactor in the nation, would be 110 years old…..

2. Oyster Creek is one of just three nuclear plants with the identical design of Fukushima I, which was the first of three units to melt down. ….

3. Keeping spent fuel in elevated spent fuel pools, as is the case with older plants like Oyster Creek and Fukushima, is believed by some critics to pose greater risks than spent fuel kept in dry casks.

Spent fuel contained in spent fuel pools is the leading cause for concern of those worried about the safety risks of plants that are closed but not fully decommissioned

4. No public participation or input by the state is required under NRC regulations in the development of a decommissioning plan….

5. It isn’t clear whether there will be sufficient funds to provide a safe dismantling of the plant when it is ultimately decommissioned…..

6. If an accident were to occur, the experience from superstorm Sandy demonstrated that the evacuation plan would not work…..

Five steps N.J. can take to improve safety margins………

May 6, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power – a really dirty form of energy – big mistake for Japan to restart it

‘Fukushima lessons: Any notion that nuclear power is clean is obsolete’ : April 17, 2015 The world must phase out nuclear power because it is absolutely not clean from the mining processing of uranium to the generation of high-level radioactive waste, Kevin Kamps for the radioactive waste watchdog Beyond Nuclear, told RT.

It’s been four years since the most powerful earthquake in Japan’s history struck the Fukushima nuclear power plant. All of Japan’s 43 operable reactors have been shut down since 2013, because of safety checks required after the accident. The operator of the nuclear plant has sent a second robot inside the Fukushima reactor to collect data from it. The first robot became immovable after recording some footage from inside the reactor.

RT: Since the disaster, Japan has allocated more than $15 billion to an unprecedented project to lower radiation in towns near the power plant. However few locals believe Tokyo’s assurances that the site will eventually be cleaned up. Do you think their fears are reasonable?

Kevin Kamps: Yes, it is an unprecedented catastrophe. Of course there was Chernobyl, but in this area of Japan – it is so densely populated all over. So when they are trying to clear the landscape down to a certain depth, it is going to be more and more expensive. When you add all of the projects from decommissioning of the nuclear power plant to trying to clean up the landscape to loss of economic activity – we’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars all together. It is going to be very difficult for anything like normal life ever to return there.

RT: In addition to massive radioactive remains, Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise following the increase in coal-fired power. Should environmentalists sound the alarm here?

KK: Just in recent days there have been the admissions by high-ranking Tokyo Electric officials that the decommissioning of the nuclear power plant could take more like 200 years because of the lack of technology to do the job. They are going to have to invent all of these robotic systems and engineering processes to try to remove the melted cores at Fukushima Daiichi because that is their current plan unlike Chernobyl with the sarcophagus. The current plan in Japan is to remove those melted cores to somewhere else – perhaps to geologic disposal, they haven’t said. But it is going to be very challenging…………

April 18, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment


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