NextEra sets Duane Arnold D&D at $1 billion

June 23, 2020, 11:55AMRadwaste Solutions

Duane Arnold is to shut down in October. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/AsNuke

NextEra Energy is estimating that it will cost just over $1 billion to decommission its Duane Arnold Energy Center over a period of 60 years, including spent fuel management and site restoration costs, according to a post-shutdown decommissioning activities report (PSDAR) and a decommissioning cost estimate the company submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in April. The NRC, with publication in the June 19 Federal Register, is requesting comments on the Duane Arnold PSDAR until October 19.

NextEra intends to permanently shut down the nuclear power plant, located near Palo, Iowa, on October 30. A single-unit, 622-MWe boiling water reactor, Duane Arnold began commercial operation in February 1975. Although the plant is licensed to operate until February 2034, NextEra announced in July 2018 its plans to cease operations at Duane Arnold well before then. NextEra, which shares ownership of the plant with Central Iowa Power Cooperative (20 percent) and Corn Belt Power Cooperative (10 percent), made the announcement after agreeing to end its power purchase agreement with utility Alliant Energy by 2020.

The details: According to the PSDAR, NextEra intends to decommission Duane Arnold using the NRC’s SAFSTOR method, in which the plant is maintained in a safe, stable condition for up to 60 years before decommissioning is completed. The current decommissioning schedule calls for the plant to be placed in a dormant state until 2073, followed by a 7-year dismantling and decontamination period. NextEra intends to complete the transfer of Duane Arnold’s spent nuclear fuel to dry storage by August 2023.

NextEra is estimating that it will cost about $725 million to decommission Duane Arnold and terminate its NRC license. The company also estimates it will spend $259 million in spent fuel management costs and $38 million to restore the site to greenfield status and decommission the plant’s independent spent fuel storage installation. NextEra based its spent fuel management cost estimate on the presumption that the Department of Energy will assume ownership of the spent fuel starting in 2030. According to NextEra’s 2019 decommissioning funding status report to the NRC, Duane Arnold had about $472 million in its decommissioning trust fund at the end of 2018.

NextEra found that the environmental impacts of decommissioning Duane Arnold are bounded by the NRC’s generic environmental impact statement for decommissioning nuclear facilities and concluded that a new environmental review is unnecessary.

Comments: Can be submitted through the federal rulemaking website with a search for Docket ID NRC–2020–0148. Comments can also be mailed to: Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWFN–7–A60M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001, ATTN: Program Management, Announcements and Editing Staff.

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