APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 14, 2011

FACTS: Decommissioning of nuclear power plants

-Many people everywhere are asking questions about the dismantling of nuclear power plants, because this aspect of power plant operation is very rarely discussed

-Quite a number of plants have actually been completely decommissioned, dismantled and removed .. leaving the site clear for other uses. See the following links about two selected plants that are decommissioned:



There are a number of other plants which are scheduled for complete decommissioning. EnergySolutions has set up a subsidiary company to decommission the Zion nuclear station, called ZionSolutions.


-Some plants are not immediately deconstructed (DECON) but rather might be placed in a defueled, stored condition for a period of time (SAFSTOR) to allow decay of radioactive material before a near term disassembly is planned, or else plants may be entombed (ENTOMB) with concrete or other materials for long-term decay of radioactive material. Examples of all of these exist in the United States.

-In a number of places where the nuclear plants have been removed, or else are shut down and defueled awaiting deconstruction, the spent fuel is transferred to an ISFSI or Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation. This removes the need for continued operation of spent fuel facilities in the original nuclear plant and allows decommissioning and demolition to proceed.

The prospects for the eventual DECON status of the Fukushima Daiichi plants seem assured, even if a firm timeline is not known or else seems questionable in some respects. Experience from other accidents has led to better procedures and specialized equipment. For example, the damaged fuel at the TMI-2 plant was damaged in 1979 but not removed from the reactor until 1990, but Toshiba and a number of other partner companies in the field of nuclear energy / nuclear engineering are offering to have the site cleared (even if not fully released) in ten years.

CLICK HERE to see the NRC page on US sites undergoing decommissioning.

4:40 PM Eastern Thursday 4/14

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