In February, Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) announced its decision to retire the Crystal River Nuclear Plant, known as CR3, located on Florida’s Gulf Coast approximately 85 miles north of Tampa.
While replacing two 500-ton steam generators during a scheduled maintenance and refueling outage at the nuclear power plant in 2009, engineers discovered a delamination, or separation of concrete, within the containment building that surrounds the reactor vessel. Though crews successfully repaired the damage, additional delamination was discovered in two different areas of the containment building in 2011.
After completing a comprehensive, months-long analysis of costs, risks and other factors, the company determined that retiring the plant, instead of continuing to pursue a first-of-a-kind repair to the containment building, was in the best interests of customers and shareholders.
Today, Duke has submitted its decommissioning plan for the retired Crystal River plant to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The plan includes a 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.
“Decommissioning the Crystal River nuclear plant will be a well-defined process, with significant NRC oversight,” said Duke Energy Crystal River decommissioning director Terry Hobbs. “Nuclear safety will remain Duke Energy’s top priority. The plant will remain in a safe, stable condition, and our comprehensive emergency plan and 24/7 security force will remain in place.”
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.