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The long process of shutting down Hunterston B nuclear power station

Experts say that the site of the current Hunterston B power station could
be available for use again in around 90 years. Details of the upcoming
decommissioning process for the nuclear site have been revealed as part of
a public consultation over the next stage of the power station site’s
life. Defuelling of the site is currently under way, with decommissioning
expected to start in 2025/26 and it will take around 12 years to demolish
the majority of buildings. A long period of inactivity, thought to be
around 70 years, will follow before the remaining site will be
decommissioned and potentially ready for reuse. Following defuelling,
operators EDF will hand over responsibility to the Nuclear Decommissioning
Authority. The authority’s subsidiary Magnox will deliver decommissioning
activities for the decades to come. A report drawn up for the consultation
reveals that a giant ‘safestore’ will be created from the existing
reactor building, which can shield decaying radioactive materials for up to
100 years. It says: “Buildings and structures will be demolished to ground
level, with basement areas and tunnels backfilled and regraded using
material produced from the decommissioning process.

 Largs & Millport News 26th Aug 2022

https://www.largsandmillportnews.com/news/20777753.hunterston-b-site-available-use-90-years/

August 28, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor | Leave a comment

Storage of nuclear wastes and of dead nuclear reactors is becoming a political nightmare

Beyond electricity production, the use of nuclear energy also creates
problems related to the storage of spent nuclear fuel and waste, which
brings an additional layer of complexity to the question. Storage of
nuclear fuel requires facilities in geological locations which must fulfil
demanding criteria.

There are only so many places which fulfil these
criteria. Furthermore, long-term fuel storage will create commitments (and
costs) for hundreds of years.

It is easy to imagine how nuclear waste
storage can easily turn into a political nightmare – one can look at the
options in Belgium where the neighboring Luxembourg quickly protested
against storage too close to the border between the two countries; or to
the United States where nuclear storage facilities are planned on
indigenous lands.

A new politics of waste is emerging – the power plants
themselves. As the IEA demands an urgent new round of investment in ageing
nuclear sites, what are we to do with the old ones? The UK newspaper the
Independent very recently ran a story about one such site, Douneray, in the
North of Scotland. It first opened in 1955 and ceased operations in 1994.
And yet, local campaign groups have never been as active. Why? As a 2020
report by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority puts it, the Douneray site
will be ready for other purposes in the year…2333. As old sites come to
an end, new politics of decommissioning begin.

PACCS research (accessed) 13th Aug 2022

August 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

Germany continues to close down its last remaining nuclear reactors

Germany’s nuclear power operators will continue to decommission the
country’s last three remaining plants, even as the government weighs
whether to keep the facilities running over the winter. E.ON, RWE and EnBW
confirmed they had not procured additional fuel to extend the life of the
Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim plants beyond the end of the year, when
they are legally-mandated to close.

FT 12th Aug 2022

https://www.ft.com/content/0257588e-0ebe-4696-8c4e-77f0a192b616

August 14, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

UK tax-payers face £billions of costs for the indefinite future in the clean-up of closed Hinkley Point B nuclear power station

‘End of an error’, say protesters as nuclear plant is shut down. LAST
week’s closure of Hinkley Point B after 46 years was described by
anti-nuclear campaign group Stop Hinkley as ‘the end of an error’. Stop
Hinkley spokesman Roy Pumfrey said Monday (August 1) was not a day to
celebrate the life of Hinkley Point B.

He said Monday was a day to mourn
the production of radioactive waste that would need to be carefully and
expensively managed and monitored for many generations to come. Mr Pumfrey
said: “Some of these timescales for managing the legacy of waste left
over by Hinkley B are truly staggering. EDF’s jamboree on Monday
conveniently ignores the nuclear waste which has been generated over the
past 46 years.

“Under current plans it will be at least another 100 years
before all this dangerous waste is under the ground. “And the costs are
staggering, too. “EDF’s most recent £23.5 billion estimate for
decommissioning advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) suggests it could cost
around £3-4 billion to decommission Hinkley B.

“The taxpayer has been
asked to top up the decommissioning fund by over £10 billion. “Past
experience suggests these costs will continue rising.” Mr Pumfrey said
the UK was left with Hinkley’s legacy of nuclear waste for thousands of
years and even after 46 years, nobody yet knew for sure what would happen
to it other than a ‘vague promise’ to bury it in a geological disposal
facility – a site for which had still not been found.

West Somerset Free Press 7th Aug 2022

https://www.wsfp.co.uk/news/environment/end-of-an-error-say-protesters-as-nuclear-plant-is-shut-down-558377

August 8, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Sellafield, Britain’s most dangerous building, in the decades-long process of getting its nuclear waste cleaned up.

Britain’s most dangerous building is finally to be made safe after
engineers began removing nuclear waste from an ageing silo left over from
the arms race of the Cold War. Sellafield, at the edge of the Lake District
in Cumbria, has taken the first steps in a project described as the nuclear
industry’s equivalent of putting a man on the moon.

It has spent the past
two decades searching for a solution to the seemingly intractable problem
of cleaning up 10,000 cubic metres of radioactive sludge housed inside a
concrete silo. Known as Magnox, the silo was built in the late 1950s to
receive waste from Britain’s atomic weapons development programme, as
well as its growing fleet of nuclear reactors.

Today it holds roughly 80
per cent of all of Britain’s nuclear waste. For decades the waste has
been dissolving into a highly dangerous and potentially explosive mix
within a building no longer fit for purpose, leading to it being described
as the “most hazardous building in western Europe” – a description
Sellafield itself uses.

In 2005 a leak containing 20 metric tons of uranium
and 160kg of plutonium was discovered to have escaped from one of the
containers. The Office for Nuclear Regulation, the public watchdog, has
designated the building “an intolerable risk”.

This week, the plant
removed the first batch of waste from one of the silo’s 22 compartments
using a robotic arm specially designed for the task. The radioactive
material is then encased in cement, immobilising it to prevent any leakage,
and placed inside a metal container designed to store it permanently. The
project, which has been 20 years in the making and will take an estimated
further 20 years to complete, costs roughly £2 billion a year. Phil
Hallington, head of policy at Sellafield, described the project as the
nuclear industry’s equivalent of putting a man on the moon.

 Times 16th June 2022

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nuclear-waste-removal-begins-at-sellafield-power-plant-xlcmskffn

June 18, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Palisades atomic reactor’s shutdown for good, leaving high risk radioactive wastes

No More Risk of Reactor Core Meltdown, No More Radioactive Waste Generation, but Significant Waste and Contamination Risks Continue

Beyond Nuclear, Kevin Kamps, COVERT TOWNSHIP, MI and TAKOMA PARK, MD, MAY 21, 2022–“We are thankful that Palisades shut down before it melted down. The 51-year old atomic reactor has the worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S., which was at increasing risk of catastrophic failure due to pressurized thermal shock. To accommodate Palisades’ operation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) simply weakened and rolled back the safety standards, multiple times over decades. Palisades also has a severely degraded reactor lid, and worn out steam generators that needed replacement for the second time in the reactor’s history. All three were major pathways to core meltdown, which an NRC commissioned report, CRAC-2 (short for Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences, also known as the 1982 Sandia Siting Study or as NUREG/CR-2239) estimated would have caused a thousand peak early fatalities (acute radiation poisoning deaths), 7,000 peak early radiation injuries, 10,000 peak cancer deaths (latent cancer fatalities), and $52.6 billion in property damage. When adjusted for inflation alone, property damages would have surmounted $150 billion in Year 2021 dollar figures.  

And as Associated Press investigative reporter Jeff Donn wrote in his four-part series “Aging Nukes,” shortly after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe began in Japan in 2011, populations have soared around U.S. atomic reactors, so casualties would now be even higher. Donn cited reactor pressure vessel embrittlement and pressurized thermal shock risk as the top example of NRC regulatory retreat. Thank goodness no such nuclear nightmare unfolded at Palisades during its operations, but Consumers Energy (from 1971 to 2007) and Entergy (from 2007 to 2022) were willing to take those risks on the shoreline of the Great Lakes, drinking water supply for more than 40 million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a very large number of Native American First Nations downstream and downwind, as well as up the food chain. Now, by definition, once the irradiated nuclear fuel is removed from the core, a reactor meltdown cannot happen at Palisades.

But the likely more than 700 metric tons of forever deadly irradiated (euphemistically called spent or used) nuclear fuel, containing more than 1,800 pressurized water reactor assemblies, and comprising more than 150 million curies of hazardous radioactivity, still represent a very significant risk. The vast majority is still stored in the indoor wet storage pool, at risk of a loss of cooling water leading to a catastrophic radioactivity release to the environment. While transfer of irradiated nuclear fuel into dry cask storage represents an increase in safety, it involves the movement of very heavy loads over the pool, and must be done very carefully. In October 2005, a 107-ton transfer cask containing irradiated nuclear fuel dangerously dangled over the pool for two days, and was nearly dropped from its crane by operator error. Had that happened, the ensuing pool fire could have dwarfed even CRAC-II’s casualties and property damage figures cited above, as Palisades’ pool is not even located in a radiological containment structure. Recently, in its careless rush job to empty a storage pool, Holtec, which plans to takeover at Palisades by the end of June, with NRC’s complicit rubber-stamp, caused a radioactive water spill that doused and dosed a worker at its Oyster Creek, New Jersey decommissioning project. In 2018, Holtec’s flawed dry cask storage design at San Onofre, California nearly caused a 50-ton loaded canister to fall nearly 20-feet. For these and many other reasons, Beyond Nuclear, Don’t Waste Michigan, and Michigan Safe Energy Future have legally challenged Holtec’s takeover of Palisades. But the NRC has refused for 15 months to grant us our day in court. We do call for expedited transfer of irradiated nuclear fuel out of the vulnerable pool, but not into Holtec’s dubious and defective dry casks, but rather into safe and secure Hardened On-Site Storage, in order to protect health and environment for the decades the irradiated nuclear fuel will likely be stuck at Palisades with nowhere to go. But Palisades’ shutdown for good means no more high-level radioactive waste will be generated there, which is a very good thing.

Due to all the risks above, Governor Whitmer and Energy Secretary Granholm’s unwise last-second scheme to bail out Palisades with many hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, and keep it operating for nine more years, must be stopped. So too is Holtec CEO Krishna Singh’s bait and switch to construct and operate a so-called Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactor at the Palisades site an outrageous, high-risk non-starter.

It is now time to safeguard and secure the high-level radioactive waste stored on-site, to clean up the widespread radioactive contamination of the property before it further threatens Lake Michigan and adjacent groundwater aquifers, and to carry out a just transition for the workforce and host region, into the long overdue clean, safe, and affordable renewable and efficient energy system of the future.”e a so-called Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactor at the Palisades site an outrageous, high-risk non-starter.

May 30, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Entergy shuts down Palisades nuclear station ahead of time

 Entergy Corp said on Friday it has permanently shut a nuclear power
station in Michigan despite a Biden administration plan to rescue plants
like it because they generate electricity virtually free of carbon
emissions. Entergy closed the 800-Megawatt Palisades plant in Michigan that
had operated for more than 50 years. “After careful monitoring, operators
made the conservative decision to shut down the plant early due to the
performance of a control rod drive seal,” Entergy said in a statement about
the plant.

 Reuters 21st May 2022

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/blow-biden-climate-plan-entergy-shuts-nuclear-power-plant-2022-05-20/

May 23, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

UK Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee sets out the grim facts on costs of decommissioning nuclear reactors

Despite government already having had to provide additional funding of
£10.7 billion, there remains a strong likelihood that more taxpayers’
money will be required to meet the costs of decommissioning the seven
Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor nuclear power stations.

The Nuclear Liabilities Fund, which was set up to meet the decommissioning costs of these stations,
has not kept up with the increased costs of decommissioning or met its
investment targets. In response, government has chosen to top up the Fund
with taxpayers’ money, providing an injection of capital of £5.1 billion
in 2020–21 with a further £5.6 billion expected in 2021–22. HM
Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have
opted to maintain an investment strategy for the Fund whereby around 80% of
its assets are invested in the National Loans Fund currently earning
minimal returns.

Estimated decommissioning costs on the other hand have
almost doubled since March 2004, estimated at £23.5 billion in March 2021,
and there remains a significant risk that the costs could rise further
putting strain on the Fund.

 Public Accounts Committee 20th May 2022

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5803/cmselect/cmpubacc/118/summary.html

May 21, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

UK nuclear power stations’ decommissioning cost soars to £23.5bn

UK nuclear power stations’ decommissioning cost soars to £23.5bn  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/20/uk-nuclear-power-stations-decommissioning-cost Failures in government’s investment strategy mean taxpayer has contributed £10.7bn in just two yearsm Sandra Laville Environment correspondent Fri 20 May 2022

The cost of decommissioning the UK’s seven ageing nuclear power stations has nearly doubled to £23.5bn and is likely to rise further, the public accounts committee has said.

The soaring costs of safely decommissioning the advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs), including Dungeness B, Hunterston B and Hinkley B, are being loaded on to the taxpayer, their report said.

Failures in the government’s investment strategy for the fund, which was set up to pay for the decommissioning, have led to the taxpayer topping it up by an additional £10.7bn in just two years.

The nuclear power stations are owned by EDF Energy and provide much of the UK’s nuclear power-generated electricity, which makes up 16% of the energy mix. But the stations are nearing the end of their lives and are scheduled to stop generating electricity during this decade.

The government has recently agreed that once the stations have been defuelled by EDF, which involves the removal of all the spent fuel from the reactor core and cooling ponds, ownership of the stations will be transferred to the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to complete decommissioning.

“The pace at which the stations can be defuelled could have a big impact on the costs, between £3.1bn and £8bn depending on the time taken,” the inquiry report said. “Successful defuelling will depend on all parties being ready and working together, including the NDA being ready to receive and dismantle the volume of fuel arriving at Sellafield. Any delays in the defuelling process could result in costs increasing substantially.

“The handover agreement does not appear to sufficiently ‘incentivise cost efficiency and ensure a smooth transfer of defuelled stations to the NDA’.”

The public accounts committee also said it had concerns over whether the NDA had the capacity to take on the seven AGR stations in addition to its other responsibilities, which includes decommissioning the older Magnox reactors.

It will cost the UK taxpayer £132bn to decommission all the UK’s civil nuclear sites and the work will not be completed for another 120 years, according to latest estimates.

Boris Johnson has pledged to build eight nuclear power stations in eight years. But the UK has no facility for permanently and safely storing the waste from past, present or future nuclear power stations. Most is currently stored at Sellafield, one of the most complex and hazardous nuclear sites in the world.


Nuclear Waste Services
, an arm of the government, is seeking a site to build a geological deposit facility deep underground for all the UK’s nuclear waste.

MPs on the public accounts committee said in their report on Friday the government must learn lessons from the rising costs of decommissioning the seven AGR reactors and be clear how the decommissioning of proposed new nuclear stations would be funded.

The seven stations were sold by the government to EDF in 2009, with the later agreement that the French company would remove the fuel from the stations when they closed, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority would take on the decommissioning of the sites. But the cost of decommissioning the seven AGR reactors that began to close last year, plus Sizewell B, has more than doubled from £12.6bn in 2004-05 to £23.5bn in 2020-21, the public accounts committee report said.

“There remain significant uncertainties that will need to be managed to prevent further increases in costs and ease pressures on the fund,” the report said. “The cost of defuelling will depend on the stations not closing significantly earlier than planned and how quickly they can be defuelled once electricity generation ceases.”

The public accounts committee, in a previous report, said the cost of decommissioning the older Magnox reactors – which were the first generation of UK nuclear stations – had increased by billions of pounds because of uncertainty over the condition of the sites and how to tackle the decommissioning.

The PAC report said the closure of seven nuclear stations by 2028 would have a significant impact on energy production, but EDF has said there can be no extensions to the life of the reactors while the UK waits for new generating capacity to come online.

May 21, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | 1 Comment

Cost of shutting down UK’s old nuclear reactors is doubling and then some

 The cost of decommissioning the UK’s seven ageing nuclear power stations
has nearly doubled to £23.5bn and is likely to rise further, the public
accounts committee has said. The soaring costs of safely decommissioning
the advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs), including Dungeness B, Hunsterston
B and Hinkley B, are being loaded on to the taxpayer, their report said.
Failures in the government’s investment strategy for the fund, which was
set up to pay for the decommissioning, have led to the taxpayer topping it
up by an additional £10.7bn in just two years. The nuclear power stations
are owned by EDF Energy and provide much of the UK’s nuclear
power-generated electricity, which makes up 16% of the energy mix. But the
stations are nearing the end of their lives and are scheduled to stop
generating electricity during this decade. The government has recently
agreed that once the stations have been defuelled by EDF, which involves
the removal of all the spent fuel from the reactor core and cooling ponds,
ownership of the stations will be transferred to the government’s Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to complete decommissioning.

 Guardian 20th May 2022

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/20/uk-nuclear-power-stations-decommissioning-cost

May 21, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

The dangerous business of dismantling America’s aging nuclear plants

The NRC has given Holtec permission to pare back safety and security requirements at its plants, including security personnel, cybersecurity, emergency planning, terrorist attack drills and accident insurance, according to documents on the agency’s website.

“The NRC has not figured out a permanent solution” to nuclear waste………. “They are using Holtec as a Band-Aid.”

  Accidents at New Jersey’s Oyster Creek power plant have spurred calls for stricter oversight of the burgeoning nuclear decommissioning industry  Washington Post, By Douglas MacMillan  PORKED RIVER, N.J. — The new owner took over the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in 2019, promising to dismantle one of the nation’s oldest nuclear plants at minimal cost and in record time. Then came a series of worrisome accidents.

The new owner took over the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in 2019, promising to dismantle one of the nation’s oldest nuclear plants at minimal cost and in record time. Then came a series of worrisome accidents.

One worker was struck by a 100-ton metal reactor dome. Another was splashed with radioactive water, according to internal incident reports and regulatory inspection reports reviewed by The Washington Post. Another worker drove an excavator into an electrical wire on his first day on the job, knocking out power to 31,000 homes and businesses on the New Jersey coast, according to a police report and the local power company.

All three incidents occurred on the watch of Holtec International, a nuclear equipment manufacturer based in Jupiter, Fla. Though the company until recently had little experience shutting down nuclear plants, Holtec has emerged as a leader in nuclear cleanup, a burgeoning field riding an expected wave of closures as licenses expire for the nation’s aging nuclear fleet.

Over the past three years, Holtec has purchased three plants in three states and expects to finalize a fourth this summer.  The company is seeking to profitably dismantle them by replacing hundreds of veteran plant workers with smaller, less-costly crews of contractors and eliminating emergency planning measures, documents and interviews show. While no one has been seriously injured at Oyster Creek, the missteps are spurring calls for stronger government oversight of the entire cleanup industry.

In the nearly three years Holtec has owned Oyster Creek, regulators have documented at least nine violations of federal rules, including the contaminated water mishap, falsified weapons inspection reports and other unspecified security lapses. That’s at least as many as were found over the preceding 10 years at the plant, when it was owned by Exelon, one of the nation’s largest utility companies, according to The Post’s review of regulatory records.,…………………

Holtec is pioneering an experimental new business model. During the lifetime of America’s 133 nuclear reactors, ratepayers paid small fees on their monthly energy bills to fill decommissioning trust funds, intended to cover the eventual cost of deconstructing the plants. Trust funds for the country’s 94 operating and 14 nonoperating nuclear reactors now total about $86 billion, according to Callan, a San Francisco-based investment consulting firm.

After a reactor is dismantled and its site cleared, some of these trust funds must return any money left over to ratepayers. But others permit cleanup companies to keep any surplus as profit — creating incentives to cut costs at sites that house some of the most dangerous materials on the planet.

Even after reactors are shut down, long metal rods containing radioactive pellets — known as spent fuel — are stored steps away, in cooling pools and steel-and-concrete casks. Nuclear safety experts say that an industrial accident or a terrorist attack at any of these sites could result in a radiological release with severe impacts to workers and nearby residents, as well as to the environment.

(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the independent federal agency tasked with overseeing safety at nuclear sites, conducts regular inspections during the decommissioning process. But state and local officials say the NRC has failed to safeguard the public from risks at shut-down plants, deferring too readily to companies like Holtec.

“The NRC is not doing their job,” said Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who has pushed the agency to adopt stricter regulations around plant decommissioning. “We need a guaranteed system that prioritizes communities and safety, and we don’t have that right now.”

The NRC’s leadership is divided over the role regulators should play. The agency was created in 1974, as the first generation of commercial reactors was going online, and its rules were mainly designed to safeguard the operation of active plants and nuclear-material sites. As reactors shut down, the NRC began reducing inspections and exempting plants from safety and security rules.

Last November, the NRC approved a new rule that would automatically qualify shut-down plants for looser safety and security restrictions.

Continue reading

May 14, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Cost of living: Ministers consider delaying nuclear power decommissioning to help ease crisis

Government will consider plans  only if nuclear regulator believes it is safe to keep reactors online  

 inews    By Richard Vaughan  Ministers are looking into delaying the decommissioning of existing nuclear power stations in a bid to keep soaring energy prices down in the coming years, i understands.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has demanded his Cabinet look into ways to tackle the cost of living crisis, urging them to be “as creative as possible” in devising measures to ease the burden on households.

Whitehall sources have told i that among the options being examined are plans to keep existing nuclear reactors going beyond the date they are due to be taken off grid……..

Six of the UK’s seven nuclear reactors are due to go offline by 2030. Due to the rampant cost of fossil fuels, nuclear power is now among the cheaper energy sources for the UK, prompting Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to look at whether they could be kept operational.

Nuclear industry insiders believe the Hinkley Point B reactor, which is due for decommission in July, could be extended for several more years.

Six of the UK’s seven nuclear reactors are due to go offline by 2030. Due to the rampant cost of fossil fuels, nuclear power is now among the cheaper energy sources for the UK, prompting Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to look at whether they could be kept operational.

Nuclear industry insiders believe the Hinkley Point B reactor, which is due for decommission in July, could be extended for several more years.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,    https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/cost-of-living-ministers-consider-delaying-nuclear-power-decommissioning-to-help-ease-crisis-1625223

May 12, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

”Decommissioming” of UK’s dead nuclear reactors is likely to cost the tax-payer much more than planned for.

significant additional taxpayer support has been required, and more is likely to be necessary.

there is a risk that the taxpayer will have to make further
contributions.

A report from the UK’s National Audit Office examines whether the
government’s arrangements for decommissioning Britain’s fleet of
advanced-gas-cooled reactors offers value for money.

The UK has eight second generation nuclear power stations accounting for around 16% of total
UK electricity generation in 2020. Seven of the eight stations are Advanced
Gas-cooled Reactors (AGRs), the design of which built on that of the first
generation of now closed Magnox reactors.

Under current plans, all the AGR
stations will have stopped generating electricity by 2028. Decommissioning
is envisaged to take just over 100 years under current plans. The Nuclear
Liabilities Fund (the Fund) was established to meet the costs of
decommissioning all seven AGRs plus a pressurised water reactor at Sizewell
B, but significant additional taxpayer support has been required, and more
is likely to be necessary.

The UK government has provided a guarantee to
underwrite the Fund if its assets are insufficient to meet the total costs
of decommissioning. In 2020, government contributed £5.1 billion ($6.8bn)
to strengthen the Fund’s position and the Fund has recently requested a
further £5.6 billion. The Fund’s assets were valued at £14.8 billion at
the end of March 2021. The aim is that growth in the Fund’s investments
will be sufficient to meet the long-term costs of decommissioning
(currently £23.5 billion).

However, cost estimates have doubled in real
terms since 2004/5. If this trend is maintained and investment growth is
not sufficient, there is a risk that the taxpayer will have to make further
contributions. Last year, the government entered into new arrangements to
decommission the seven AGR nuclear power plants, making EDF Energy
responsible for defueling. The decommissioning of the AGR nuclear power
stations, a 66-page report published by the National Audit Office (NAO)
examines whether these arrangements will lead to better value for money.
The NAO scrutinises public spending to help Parliament hold government to
account and improve public services. It says that while the arrangements
could deliver savings, their success will ultimately depend on the relevant
parties working collaboratively to overcome risks.

 Nuclear Engineering International 20th April 2022

https://www.neimagazine.com/features/featurearrangements-for-decommissioning-the-agrs-9640510/

April 23, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Construction projects surge at Fukushima nuclear plant despite decommissioning progress

Construction projects surge at Fukushima nuclear plant despite decommissioning progress

April 4, 2022 Mainichi Japan   OKUMA, Fukushima — The site of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station continues to host new construction projects some 11 years after the disaster triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunamis.

This Mainichi Shimbun reporter had the opportunity to visit the plant for the first time in seven and a half years, and reflect on why new facilities continue to appear even as the plant moves toward decommissioning…………..

While decommissioning seems to be advancing, various facilities have been newly constructed, and the issue of water remains. A rising number of tanks store treated water contaminated after it was pumped to cool fuel debris that melted down in the accident, as well as groundwater and rainwater that flowed into the buildings. Inside the tanks, the contaminated water is made to reach a radioactive concentration below regulation levels.

On the seventh floor of a building located near the site’s entrance, a Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) representative gave me an outline of the entire facility. I could see two large cranes on the ocean side around Units 1 to 4, and another large crane and framework structure on the mountain side. When I asked about it, the representative told me the frame was being assembled in a remote location to reduce worker radiation exposure. But it wasn’t a facility being dismantled; it’s a cover measuring 66 meters long, 56 meters wide, and 68 meters high that will wrap around Unit 1.

The hydrogen explosion in Unit 1 blew the building’s roof off, and 392 pieces of nuclear fuel remain in its spent fuel pool near the ceiling. Their removal is scheduled to start in fiscal 2027 to 2028. For this to happen, the surrounding debris must be removed, and the cover’s installation will help prevent the work dispersing radioactive dust.

Ground improvements works were progressing on the neighboring Unit 2’s south side. There, a working platform to remove 615 pieces of nuclear fuel from Unit 2 will be built, with its start slated for fiscal 2024 to 2026.

The buildings for Units 1 through 4 were damaged and contaminated, so different structures, such as platforms and covers, had to be built to remove nuclear fuel from the pools. Particularly conspicuous was the thick steel frame of the Unit 4 facility, from which fuel was completely removed in 2014. Although 53 meters high, it surprisingly uses about the same amount of steel as the 333-meter-high Tokyo Tower. Since the nuclear fuel is being removed in order, new construction work continues in reactor buildings’ vicinities………………

The company listed at least 10 facilities earmarked for future construction. Put another way, the tanks need to be removed to provide land for these facilities.

Related construction work had already started at the seashore, where workers dug vertical holes to contain treated water before its release. After the implementation plan’s approval, undersea tunnel construction and other necessary work to release the water 1 km offshore will also begin.

Meanwhile, some broken cranes and damaged buildings have been left on site without being dismantled. The representative told the Mainichi Shimbun this was partly due to them trying to keep the solid waste processing volume low.

Also underway is construction of facilities to handle ever-increasing solid waste amounts. The representative said a white building I spotted in the site’s northwest side was the volume reduction facility, and that building work is going ahead for a solid waste storage facility in front of it.

The volume reduction facility scheduled for completion in March 2023 will use crushing and other methods to reduce concrete and metal debris volumes. Although nine storage buildings already exist, a 10th will soon be constructed. Nearby was also a new incineration facility for burning logged trees. TEPCO estimates solid waste generated will reach a volume of 794,000 cubic meters by March 2033, and that there will continue to be more related facilities.

Fuel debris removal will begin at the end of 2022. In the future, facilities to hold fuel debris and to store and reduce volumes of solid waste with high doses of radiation generated by the work will also be needed.

Each year creates new tasks that generate more waste, and the facilities to accommodate it. These buildings are also destined to eventually become solid waste. While this cycle continues, a final disposal method for the waste is undetermined. The government’s and TEPCO’s timetable says 20 to 30 years of plant decommissioning remain. But on site, where new construction projects continue to appear, a clear picture of when decommissioning will finish has yet to emerge.

(Japanese original by Takuya Yoshida, Science & Environment News Department)   https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220402/p2a/00m/0na/027000c

April 4, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, Fukushima continuing, safety | Leave a comment

Decommissioning is just the beginning of the huge nuclear legacy problem

Nuclear power concerns outlast decommissioning, Great Lakes Echo,   By Cameryn Cass 4 Feb 22,

Editor’s note: This is part of a package of two articles and a podcast about nuclear power in Michigan.

As Michigan and other states gradually move away from coal and other brown energy sources, there’s growing interest in carbon-free alternatives, including nuclear energy,

As Michigan and other states gradually move away from coal and other brown energy sources, there’s growing interest in carbon-free alternatives, including nuclear energy, which some advocates call a “clean alternative” that now fuels 30% of Michigan’s total electricity.

One nuclear plant in the state, Big Rock Point in Charlevoix closed in 1997 and has been fully decommissioned. In the spring of 2022, the Palisades Nuclear Plant in Southwest Michigan’s Van Buren County will close because of a “business decision.”

Michigan also has the Fermi Nuclear Power Plant in Newport, near Monroe, and the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Berrien County’s Bridgman, according to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

With Palisades and other plants in the Great Lakes region scheduled to shut down in the coming decades, more people are considering the long-term impacts of this energy source.

After decommissioning, radioactive waste remains on-site, said Susan Chiblow, an Indigenous environmental scholar in Ontario.

The waste stays in the environment for trillions of years, so calling nuclear power clean is propaganda, she said.

In short, risks don’t disappear when a plant is decommissioned, a process that can take up to 60 years, said Edwin Lyman, the nuclear safety project director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy organization based in Massachusetts.

Although closed plants no longer have to worry about accidents post shut-down, their operators remain responsible for managing the radiated materials and spent nuclear waste, Lyman said.

He said waste now stored on-site is vulnerable to security threats and climate disasters.

For five years, the waste is kept in large swimming pool-like structures where it’s mixed with water to keep it cool. Then, it’s transferred to dry casks, he said.

The U.S. Department of Energy is technically responsible for removing the waste, but it has nowhere to bring it, Lyman said.

“It’s going to be a long-term storage problem for any nuclear plant that’s shut down,” Lyman said……………………………

Thirteen states have banned construction of new nuclear plants.

In the Great Lakes region, Minnesota adopted its ban in 1994. ……

Because the Great Lakes account for one-fifth of the world’s freshwater, Chiblow and other environmentalists are especially interested in protecting it……….c

February 5, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | 4 Comments