Entergy outlines NRC decommissioning alternatives

When Entergy (NYSE:ETR) said Aug. 27 that it would retire the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2014, the company announced it would use the SAFSTOR (or safe storage) process or delayed dismantling to decommission the plant.

Included in Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault’s presentation to the Barclays 2013 power conference Sept. 13 in New York, is a rundown of various decommissioning alternatives that can be submitted to NRC.

** DECON is prompt dismantling that occurs soon after the nuclear facility closes.

** SAFSTOR is delayed dismantling where the station is maintained and monitored in a condition that allows the radioactivity to delay; afterward it is dismantled and decontaminated. In Vermont, some lawmakers have said they want dismantling done promptly.

** ENTOMB is a process where radioactive contaminants are permanently encased on site in structurally sound material, such as concrete, and appropriately maintained and monitored until the radioactivity decays to a level permitting restricted release of the property (to date, no NRC-licensed facilities have requested this option).

The nuclear plant operator can also choose a combination of the first two choices in which some portions of the facility are dismantled or decontaminated while other parts of the facility are left in SAFSTOR.

Decommissioning must be completed within 60 years of the plant ceasing operations; a time beyond that would be considered only when necessary to protect public health and safety in accordance with NRC regulations.

The mode of decommissioning must be approved by NRC. So far, SAFSTOR has been the most popular option favored by utilities who recently said they will retire a nuclear plant.

Dominion (NYSE:D) plans to use SAFSTOR to decommission the Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin as does Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) for the Crystal River 3 nuclear plant in Florida. 

Edison International (NYSE:EIX) subsidiary Southern California Edison (SCE) has said it will probably move rapidly on San Onofre Units 2 and 3.

“We have not submitted a decommissioning plan yet but did indicate to a state senate committee last month that we expect to complete decommissioning within 15 years. Immediate dismantlement is expected to be our path, though no final decisions have been made,” an SCE spokesperson said.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.