The Florida Public Service Commission voted unanimously on August 18 to approve Duke Energy Florida’s plan to accelerate the decontamination and decommissioning of its Crystal River-3 nuclear power plant. The commission vote marks the final regulatory approval needed to finalize, in October, Duke Energy’s contract with Accelerated Decommissioning Partners (ADP). According to Duke Energy, ADP will complete the decommissioning by 2027, rather than the 2074 date that was originally announced.
Duke Energy permanently ceased operations at Crystal River-3 in 2013 and, in June 2019, the company applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to transfer the reactor’s license to ADP, a joint venture of NorthStar Group Services and Orano Decommissioning Holdings. The NRC approved the license transfer in April. NorthStar will also be contracted to demolish the permanently shut down coal-fired Crystal River-1 and -2.
Locked-in D&D cost: According to the Florida PSC, the contract with ADP will lock in the cost of decommissioning Crystal River-3 at $540 million, which will be covered by the reactor’s decommissioning trust fund. As of April 30, 2019, Crystal River-3 had approximately $731 million in its trust fund, according to a revised post-shutdown decommissioning activities report that ADP submitted to the NRC last year.
Duke has been ordered by the PSC to provide quarterly D&D reports through the final period of partial NRC license termination, allowing the commission to monitor decommissioning activities and the status of the decommissioning trust fund.
Under its agreement with ADP, Duke Energy will remain the owner of the nuclear power plant, property, and equipment, and will retain ownership and control of the decommissioning trust fund. ADP will become the NRC licensee responsible for decommissioning the plant in compliance with all state and federal regulations.
D&D timeline: According to Duke Energy, while the near-term decommissioning activities will take seven years to complete, the bigger-picture project extends 18 years, as follows:
2020-2027: ADP will decontaminate equipment, remove components, ship radioactive materials (such as the reactor vessel) to a licensed facility, demolish plant buildings, shrink the regulated land area, and seek a partial-license termination from the NRC.
2020-2037: ADP will operate and maintain the on-site independent spent fuel storage facility (ISFSI). Twenty-four-hour security, emergency response, and radiological and environmental monitoring programs will continue throughout the decommissioning and ongoing operation of the ISFSI in compliance with applicable regulations.
2037-2038: ADP will restore the site and ask the NRC to terminate the license and release the property for unrestricted use. This phase assumes that the Department of Energy has taken ownership of the used nuclear fuel, and that all fuel has been moved from the nuclear plant and the ISFSI has been demolished. At that point, the property would return to Duke Energy for the company’s reuse.