Duke submits ‘SAFSTOR’ decommissioning plan for Crystal River

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) has submitted its decommissioning plan for the company’s retired Crystal River 3 (CR3) nuclear plant in Florida to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the company said Dec. 10.

Duke has selected the “SAFSTOR” (or safe storage) decommissioning option – one of three 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 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. But Edison International (NYSE:EIX) subsidiary Southern California Edison (SCE) has said it will probably move rapidly on San Onofre Units 2 and 3.

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.

Duke says estimated decommissioning cost is $1.18bn 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.

The Florida PSC recently capped CR3 nuclear recovery at $1.4bn.

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, Duke said.

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

Duke announced in February that it would retire the 800-MW nuclear unit in Florida that it acquired as part of the merger with Progress Energy. Duke decided that it did not want to make the potentially multi-billion-dollar investment to repair cracks in the plant, which had been idle since fall 2009.

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.