Duke Energy submits Crystal River nuclear plant decommission plan to NRC

Duke Energy submitted its decommissioning plan for the company's retired Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The plan includes a nuclear decommissioning description, cost estimate and schedule. It also includes a management strategy for storing used nuclear fuel. 

Duke Energy expects to implement tasks outlined in the decommissioning plan starting in 2014. The plant operated from 1977 to 2009.

Plan highlights

·      Duke Energy has selected the "SAFSTOR" decommissioning option — one of three options approved by the NRC, and one chosen by several other retired U.S. nuclear plants. Under this option, the plant will be placed in a safe, stable condition for 60 years until decommissioning work is completed in 2074.

·      The estimated decommissioning cost is $1.18 billion in today's (2013) dollars. Duke Energy believes the company's existing nuclear decommissioning trust fund, plus the fund's future growth — coupled with funds from the plant's nine other owners — will be sufficient to decommission the plant.

·      Radiological and environmental monitoring will continue during the entire decommissioning process to ensure safety and environmental protection.

·      The plant's used nuclear fuel will remain in the existing on-site fuel pool until a new, on-site, dry-cask storage facility is built. The plant has safely stored its used fuel on site for 35 years, since the facility's first refueling in 1978. All U.S. nuclear plants store used fuel on site — either in fuel pools or dry casks — because the U.S. does not have a central federal repository for used nuclear fuel.

About 275 employees work at the plant — members of the facility's decommissioning transition organization — in addition to security personnel.

In accordance with federal regulations, the NRC will make the plan available for public comment. The NRC also will schedule a public meeting in the first quarter of 2014 in Citrus County, Fla., to discuss the plan and the agency's decommissioning oversight process.

Duke Energy has also submitted the plan to the Florida Public Service Commission, in accordance with federal regulations, and briefed the Florida Office of Public Counsel.

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