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Decommissioning

Although it is imperative that we shut down nuclear plants, they remain dangerous, and expensive even when closed. Radioactive inventories remain present on the site and decommissioning costs have been skyrocketing, presenting the real danger that utilities will not be able to afford to properly shut down and clean up non-operating reactor sites.

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Entries by admin (47)

Thursday
Jul052018

Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants: What Congress, Federal Agencies and Communities Need to Know

See the EESI (Environmental and Energy Study Institute) Briefing Notice for the following event:

Monday, July 16 2018    |   2 PM – 3:30 PM

Room HC-8, U.S. Capitol Building

Please RSVP to expedite check-in: www.eesi.org/071618nuclear#rsvp

Live webcast will be streamed at: www.eesi.org/livecast

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a briefing on the urgent need to safely decommission nuclear power plants, which are increasingly shutting down. The United States is facing a significant wave of nuclear plant closures for which it is unprepared. Most of the existing U.S. reactor fleet will inevitably close over the next two decades, as plants near the ends of their operational lifespans. Decommissioning is the process of dismantling the closed plant and securing or removing radioactive waste while lowering the site’s residual radioactivity to safer levels. Getting decommissioning right is critical to communities’ health and safety, while getting it wrong could pose an existential threat.

 

Leading scientists, policy experts, NGO advocates, and local elected officials with experience of decommissioning will speak at the briefing. It will cover the impacts of decommissioning, current decommissioning options, waste storage vs. transport, thorny unsolved problems and best practices, financing and liability, a just transition for communities and workers, how communities and states can and can’t weigh in on these issues, and how they should inform the fast-changing legislative and regulatory landscape. Briefers include:

 

  • ·       Mayor Al Hill, of Zion, Illinois, home of the decommissioned Zion Nuclear Power Station
  • ·       Robert Alvarez, Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies; former Department of Energy Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment
  • ·       Geoff Fettus, Senior Attorney for Energy & Transportation, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • ·       Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist, Beyond Nuclear
  • ·       Bob Musil (moderator), President and CEO of the Rachel Carson Council; former Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility

More than 80 reactor communities, as well as countless communities along proposed radioactive waste transport routes in 75 percent of Congressional districts, will be profoundly affected by how decommissioning is handled. The potential for radiological contamination, accidents, and long-term environmental, public health and economic damage increases as plants are dismantled and radioactive materials are handled, moved and stored. Reactor communities risk becoming de facto stewards of stranded high-level nuclear waste, which poses local and regional threats. Yet,  in most cases, shipping the waste can pose even greater threats. Communities will have to deal with the economic impacts of the legacy of reactor sites that can never be fully decontaminated.

 

The existing regulatory and legislative framework around decommissioning nuclear plants is insufficient to handle these issues, and in any case it is changing rapidly as Congress considers pending legislation (HR 3053 is just one example) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission drafts new rules that will govern decommissioning and spent fuel disposition. The experts addressing this briefing have learned surprising lessons about decommissioning that Washington needs to hear as it makes key decisions the consequences of which we will live with for a long time to come.

 

This briefing is co-sponsored by Beyond Nuclear, Ecological Options Network, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), Nuclear Resource and Information Service (NIRS), Riverkeeper, Safe Energy Rights Group, Unity for Clean Energy (U4CE), and others.

Friday
Jan262018

J.F. Lehman & Company takes over bankrupt Waste Control Specialists -- now in complete control of NorthStar decommissioning venture

J.F. Lehman & Company ("JFLCO") has acquired Waste Control Specialists, LLC (WCS), the company announced in a press release on Jan. 26, 2018.

A year ago, WCS, with complicity from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was poised to enter into a licensing proceeding to construct and operate a so-called "centralized interim storage facility" (CISF) at its Andrews County, west Texas location. The CISF was proposed to store 40,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel, about half of what currently exists in the country.

However, when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) last June successfully blocked in court WCS's acquisition by rival EnergySolutions of Utah, WCS asked NRC to suspend its CISF licensing proceeding for lack of funds. DOJ argued that the takeover of WCS by EnergySolutions would have created a monopoly on "low-level" radioactive waste disposal in the U.S. The federal court in Delaware agreed.

It is unclear yet whether JFLCO's takeover of WCS will lead to the play button being pushed again on the CISF licensing proceeding.

WCS already operates a national so-called "low-level" radioactive waste dump for all categories, Class A, B, and C.

It has specialized over the years in accepting some of the most controversial and troublesome wastes to be had from across the U.S., including Belgian Congo K-65 ore wastes from the Manhattan Project (which were hauled down from Fernauld, Ohio), and potentially exploding barrels of military plutonium contaminated wastes from Los Alamos.

In addition, JFLCO also owns NorthStar, in which WCS was already a major partner. NorthStar would like to become the go-to company for decommissioning permanent shutdown nuclear power plants in the U.S. NorthStar has already made a major move to purchase the Vermont Yankee shutdown reactor from Entergy Nuclear. NorthStar is very likely also eyeing doing the same at soon-to-close Entergy reactors, such as Pilgrim in MA. At a public open house last year, a reactor operator at Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan, also owned by Entergy, confirmed that NorthStar was also being looked to, to eventually decommission that one too -- a decision Entergy higher ups declined to confirm when directly asked.

In this way, both the "low-level" radioactive waste (LLRW) stream from decommissioning nuclear power plants, as well as the highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel (INF) from those and other atomic reactors, could be shipped to the TX/NM border. The LLRWs would be permanently buried at WCS. The INF would supposedly only be stored there, at the surface, on an "interim" basis. But this could easily last a century, if not continue indefinitely -- leading to the risk of WCS becoming a de facto permanent "parking lot dump."

The WCS site is either above, or very near to (and upstream of), the Ogallala Aquifer, North America's single largest. The Ogallala is a critical source of drinking and irrigation water for eight states on the High Plains, stretching from TX to SD. Thus, it is essential for the lives of millions of Americans and Native Americans over a very broad region. The radioactive waste dumping, and storage, at WCS, puts this vital fresh water supply at risk.

Thursday
Jun152017

Decommissioning is the time to do an "autopsy" while dismantling reactors to investigate residual safety margins at operating reactors 

Paul Gunter with Beyond Nuclear provided comments to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's proposed rulemaking for updating the agency's policy and regulations for decommissioning nuclear power stations.

Gunter's comments focused on why closed nuclear power stations should be required to undergo destructive examination and material testing of irreplaceable structures and components like concrete containments and the steel reactor pressure vessels to gain important insights into the residual safety margins in aging reactors that are still operating under license extension.

Tuesday
Jun132017

Comments on Nuclear Regulatory Commission Draft Regulatory Basis for Decommissioning Power Reactors

Beyond Nuclear joined a coalition of environmental groups to endorse Comments on Nuclear Regulatory Commission Draft Regulatory Basis for Decommissioning Power Reactors spearheaded by Citizens Awareness Network and Nuclear Information and Resource Service. Other endorsoing organizations included Cape Downwinders, Public Citizen, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Nuclear Energy Information Service, Vermont Citizens Action Network, and Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance.

Wednesday
Feb222017

How Much Money Palisades Has For Cleanup And Why It Matters

As reported by Rebecca Thiele of WMUK. Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, a longtime watchdog on Palisades (as a board of directors member for Don't Waste Michigan, representing his hometown Kalamazoo chapter), is quoted several times in the interview.