La Crosse BWR site released for unrestricted use

February 28, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The La Crosse site in 2019 with major decommissioning completed. The coal-fired Genoa plant is in the background. (Photo: EnergySolutions)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that it has released the site of the La Crosse boiling water reactor in Wisconsin for unrestricted public use. The action comes after the NRC found that EnergySolutions subsidiary LaCrosseSolutions had met the agency’s radiation protection standards in decommissioning the nuclear power plant.

The La Crosse plant, located near Genoa, Wis., was a BWR operated by the Dairyland Power Cooperative from 1967 to 1987. LaCrosseSolutions, which acquired the reactor license from Dairyland Power in 2016, announced in November 2019 that it had completed the physical work of decommissioning the plant, which had already been partially decommissioned.

Final status surveys: In September 2019, the NRC consented to the transfer of the La Crosse license back to Dairyland Power. LaCrosseSolutions submitted final status surveys of the site and requested the unconditional site release in February 2020. The site release was delayed, however, as the company worked to respond to requests from the NRC for additional information regarding the site’s final status survey reports.

A partial site release was approved by the NRC in May 2022, and the current action releases the remainder of the site outside the spent fuel storage installation. According to the NRC, its staff evaluated the surveys, conducted inspections, and reviewed confirmatory analyses before concluding that the site meets its criteria to be released for unrestricted use.

Next steps: The NRC-licensed site now will be reduced to the area covered by the La Crosse independent spent fuel storage installation. Dairyland Power will remain responsible for the security and protection of the storage facility and is required to maintain $100 million in liability insurance coverage until the fuel has been removed from the site.

Dairyland Power will also be required to safely decommission the spent fuel storage facility and the remainder of the site once the fuel is removed.

Advanced reactor development: In February 2022, Dairyland Power announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with NuScale Power to evaluate the potential deployment of NuScale’s advanced nuclear technology.

The two companies agreed to work together to explore NuScale’s small modular reactor technology and support Dairyland’s due diligence process in evaluating affordable, reliable, and carbon-free energy solutions.

In announcing the MOU, Brent Ridge, Dairyland Power president and chief executive officer, said, “Dairyland is examining carbon-free power supply technologies including NuScale’s small modular reactor nuclear plants. This agreement provides Dairyland an opportunity to explore this technology and evaluate whether it might be a viable long-term alternative to provide our members with safe, reliable and cost-effective electricity in a lower carbon future.”

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