Canadian nuclear leaders to collaborate on CANDU decommissioning

May 14, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions
Canada’s pickering nuclear power plant. (photo: opg)

A collaboration agreement signed by Ontario Power Generation’s Center for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, and SNC-Lavalin will build on Ontario’s extensive nuclear industry expertise and skilled workforce to support the decommissioning of CANDU reactors in Canada and around the world, according to a May 13 press release from the organizations. The work will include the decommissioning of OPG’s Pickering nuclear power plant following the end of commercial operations in 2025.

Can plant closures be an industry engagement opportunity?

May 14, 2021, 9:04AMNuclear NewsJim A. Hamilton
New York’s Indian Point-3 was scheduled to close in April 2021.

At present, more than 20 commercial nuclear power plants in the United States have entered the decommissioning process, and many indicators point to a coming wave of additional plant closures. Indeed, with increasing numbers of plants terminating operations due to unfavorable market conditions, some voices have deemed this the “age of decommissioning.”

Regardless of whether a plant shuts its doors earlier than antici­pated or seeks a life extension through relicensing, all plants eventually close. When they do, the closure sets off a wave of economic impacts ranging from minor disruptions to severe and long-lasting harm.

EnergySolutions tapped to decommission Kewaunee power plant

May 12, 2021, 3:03PMRadwaste Solutions
EnergySolutions will acquire Kewaunee for decommissioning. Photo: Dominion Generation

Utah-based EnergySolutions has entered into a definitive agreement with Dominion Energy to acquire the closed Kewaunee nuclear power plant for prompt decommissioning. Located about 30 miles southeast of Green Bay, Wis., the single-unit, 574-MWe pressurized water reactor was shut down in May 2013 for financial reasons.

NorthStar to ship Vermont Yankee’s low-activity wastewater to Idaho

May 10, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The closed Vermont Yankee power plant is currently undergoing decommissioning. (Photo: Entergy)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is set to allow about 2 million gallons of low-level radioactive wastewater from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, currently undergoing decommissioning, to be disposed of at an Idaho waste facility. As published in the May 7 Federal Register, the NRC has issued an environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact for a request by NorthStar Nuclear Decommissioning to dispose of the wastewater at US Ecology Idaho’s waste facility near Grand View.

The consequences of closure: The local cost of shutting down a nuclear power plant

May 7, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear NewsTim Gregoire

When on May 7, 2013, the Kewaunee nuclear power plant in rural Wisconsin was shut down, it took with it more than 600 full-time jobs and more than $70 million in lost wages, not including temporary employment from refueling and maintenance outages. Taking into account indirect business-to-business activity, the total economic impact of the closure of the single-unit pressurized water reactor was estimated to be more than $630 million to the surrounding three-county area.

N.Y. drops its objections to sale of Indian Point in deal with Holtec

April 19, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y.

The State of New York will withdraw its lawsuit against the transfer of Indian Point’s license to Holtec International for decommissioning under a provisional agreement signed on April 14. In exchange, Holtec has agreed to maintain a minimum of $400 million in Indian Point’s decommissioning trust fund for the next 10 years.

Adding context to Japan’s (correct) decision to dispose of Fukushima wastewater

April 13, 2021, 6:28AMNuclear News
A current picture of the Fukushima nuclear power station with the more than 1,000 water storage tanks on site. Photo: Courtesy of TEPCO.

The Japanese government will soon announce the decision to dispose of stockpiled Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific Ocean, according to an AP News story published last Friday. The decision is years in the making and follows the guidelines from a panel of government-appointed experts named the Subcommittee on Handling of the ALPS-Treated Water (ALPS Subcommittee).

Advisory panel formed for TMI-2 decommissioning

March 25, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Three Mile Island nuclear generating station in 2010.

A community advisory board has been formed for the decommissioning of Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, according to a March 23 report by StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration of National Public Radio member stations. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved in December the transfer of TMI-2 and its license to TMI-2 Solutions for decommissioning. TMI-2 Solutions is a subsidiary of EnergySolutions.

According to the report, the TMI-2 Community Advisory Panel (CAP) is made up of 15 people who represent the plant and its neighbors, including townships, school districts, first responders, nuclear planners, and state historians. The group is being led by Londonderry Township manager Steve Letavic.

TMI-2 Solutions said that it will provide quarterly decommissioning updates to the TMI-2 CAP. As a volunteer non-regulatory organization, the CAP will provide community feedback to TMI-2 Solutions, including any issues or concerns related to TMI-2 decommissioning activities.

Advanced liquid waste processing systems: Safely processing Fukushima’s wastewater

March 19, 2021, 2:07PMNuclear NewsJohn Fabian

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) became a household name a decade ago as the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, center of the largest nuclear accident in a generation. Now in 2021, as a result of the continuous mitigation efforts, TEPCO is currently storing 1.2 million cubic meters of treated wastewater—and counting—in more than 1,000 large storage tanks on site. This wastewater has been in the spotlight for the past few years since current projections show that storage capacity will run out by 2022. That spotlight intensified last year when a panel of experts from Japan named the Subcommittee on Handling of the ALPS-Treated Water (ALPS Subcommittee) recommended to the Japanese government that the treated wastewater should be released into the ocean. The ALPS Subcommittee’s report states, “The topic of how to handle the treated water is one of the most important decommissioning tasks, which has been discussed since 2013.” This issue has plagued the decommissioning and decontamination efforts for the past decade for one simple reason: a failure to effectively communicate about the low risk involved with processing, diluting, and discharging the water over a period of several years.

Southern California Edison pushes to get SONGS’s spent fuel moved off-site

March 16, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Southern California Edison has released a three-volume set of plans supporting the off-site relocation of the spent nuclear fuel currently stored at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. According to SCE, the release of the Action Plan, the Strategic Plan, and the Conceptual Transportation Plan constitutes a significant milestone in a process that began with the 2017 settlement regarding the coastal development permit issued for San Onofre’s expanded spent fuel storage installation.

At the same time, in an effort to urge the federal government to find a permanent solution to the nation’s inventory of commercial spent fuel, SCE and the counties of Orange and San Diego announced on March 15 the formation of a stakeholder coalition, Action for Spent Fuel Solutions Now.

“SCE and our partners and stakeholders have a genuine opportunity to bring people together with a shared interest to prepare and advocate for the relocation of the spent fuel away from the coast,” said Kevin Payne, SCE’s president and chief executive officer. “It is clear that to make tangible progress on this issue, the federal government must act. Rather than wait for this to happen, we are going to be a catalyst for change.”

Information about the coalition, including how to join, is available on its website.

Critical Look: PBS Newshour’s coverage of 10th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident

March 15, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

Along with many other media outlets on March 11, the PBS NewsHour reported on the continuing recovery efforts from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan 10 years ago. The segment, "Japan marks 10th anniversary of Fukushima nuclear disaster," is just over eight minutes long, most of which discusses the effects of the earthquake and tsunami on the region and Japan’s preparedness for the next major natural incident.

Safely decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi and revitalizing Fukushima

March 11, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear NewsAkira Ono

Akira Ono is chief decommissioning officer of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings and president of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination and Decommissioning Engineering Company.

The mission of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), and my personal mission, is to safely decommission the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and thereby contribute to the revitalization of Fukushima.

In performing this important work, we are guided by the principle of balancing the recovery of Fukushima with the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, doing everything possible to mitigate the risks as we progress. Since the accident on March 11, 2011, we have stabilized the site and alleviated many of its crisis aspects.

Most significantly, we have been making efforts to improve the working environment by reducing the contamination on the site due to the accident. About 4,000 workers are currently engaged at Fukushima Daiichi. The average monthly radiation dose for those workers has been reduced from 21.55 mSv (2,155 mrem) immediately following the accident to 0.3 mSv (30 mrem).

Jacobs to assist in one of world’s deepest nuclear cleanup missions

March 5, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd. (DSRL) has awarded a six-year contract worth an estimated $10.4 million to engineering company Jacobs to lead an integrated design management team for one of the world’s deepest nuclear cleanups. The team will help in coordinating the program to clear and treat radioactive waste in the shaft and silo at Dounreay, near Thurso, in Scotland, U.K., a former fast reactor research and development center.

The Dounreay shaft extends 214.5 feet below ground and measures 15 feet wide in places, while the silo is a large underground vault with a concrete roof. Both were used for disposal of intermediate-level radioactive waste in the 1960s and 1970s, but now the solid waste and liquid effluent they contain needs to be retrieved and repackaged for removal to a safe, modern storage facility.

DSRL, the site decommissioning company, has tasked Jacobs with leading design integration ahead of the start of construction work. The company will also assist with the management of design and build work packages and offer design support during construction and commissioning. In announcing the contract on March 4, Jacobs said that it will subcontract with Berkshire Engineering, which is based near Dounreay, to assist with test and trials work.

Transfer of Palisades license from Entergy to Holtec challenged

February 26, 2021, 12:48PMNuclear News

Several antinuclear groups and the State of Michigan have filed petitions to intervene in the transfer of the Palisades nuclear power plant license from Entergy to Holtec International for decommissioning following the plant’s permanent shutdown and defueling in the spring of 2022.

NRC grants Duane Arnold emergency planning exemptions

February 22, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News

NextEra Energy will be allowed to revise the emergency preparedness plan for its Duane Arnold nuclear power plant to reflect the plant’s decommissioning status, having been granted exemptions from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s emergency preparedness and planning requirements, the agency announced on February 17. A single-unit boiling water reactor plant located in Palo, Iowa, approximately eight miles northwest of Cedar Rapids, Duane Arnold was shut down in August 2020 after a derecho damaged the plant’s cooling towers.

The NRC regularly issues exemptions from its licensing requirements to nuclear power plants that are transitioning to decommissioning, where the risk of an off-site radiological release is significantly lower, and the types of possible accidents significantly fewer, than at an operating reactor.

Once NextEra implements the exemptions, state and local governments can rely on comprehensive emergency management (“all hazard”) planning for off-site emergency response should an event occur at Duane Arnold. As a result, there will not be a 10-mile emergency planning zone as currently identified in Duane Arnold’s license. The plant will maintain an on-site emergency plan and response capabilities, including the continued notification of state government officials in the event of an emergency declaration.

NRC report updates decommissioning cost guidance

February 8, 2021, 9:12AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has updated its guidance for nuclear power plant owners and operators in estimating the cost of decommissioning their reactors. Licensed power reactor operators are required under NRC regulations to annually adjust the estimated costs (in current year dollars) of decommissioning their plants to ensure that adequate funds are available when needed.

NUREG-1307, Revision 18, Report on Waste Burial Charges: Changes in Decommissioning Waste Disposal Costs at Low-Level Waste Burial Facilities, issued on February 3, explains the formula acceptable to the NRC for determining the minimum decommissioning fund requirements for nuclear power reactor licensees. Specifically, NUREG-1307 provides the adjustment factor and updates the values for the labor, energy, and waste burial escalation factors of the minimum formula.

NRC opens Palisades license proceedings to public comment

February 5, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has opened for public comment the license transfer proceedings for the Palisades nuclear power plant, with the opportunity to request a hearing and petition for leave to intervene. Notice of the open proceedings was published in the February 4 Federal Register. Deadlines are February 24 for requests for a hearing and March 8 for comments.

In December, Entergy Corporation and Holtec International jointly submitted an application to the NRC for approval of the transfer of the licenses for the Palisades nuclear plant–located in Covert, Mich.—to Holtec, following the plant’s permanent shutdown and defueling in the spring of 2022. The application also requests approval of the license transfer of Entergy’s decommissioned Big Rock Point facility near Charlevoix, Mich., where only the independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) remains.

New York sues NRC over Indian Point decommissioning

January 26, 2021, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions

Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y. Photo: Entergy Nuclear

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on behalf of the State of New York against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the sale of the Indian Point nuclear power plant to subsidiaries of Holtec International for decommissioning.

Filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on January 22, the suit challenges the NRC’s denial of New York’s petition for a hearing regarding the transfer of Indian Point’s licenses from owner Entergy to Holtec, as well as the NRC’s initial approval of the license transfer. The NRC approved the transfer in November 2020 while challenges from the state and other groups were still being adjudicated. The NRC issued its order denying New York’s petition to intervene on January 15.

The transfer of ownership of the plant from Entergy to Holtec is targeted to occur after Indian Point-3 shuts down in April 2021. Indian Point-2 permanently ceased operations in April 2020, and Indian Point-1 has been shut down since 1974. The pressurized-water reactors are located in Buchanan, N.Y., approximately 24 miles north of New York City.

U.K., Japan to research remote D&D, fusion systems

January 22, 2021, 6:53AMRadwaste Solutions

The LongOps project will develop innovative robotic technologies. Photo: UKAEA

Britain and Japan have signed a research and technology deployment collaboration to help automate nuclear decommissioning and aspects of fusion energy production. According to the U.K. government, which announced the deal on January 20, the £12 million (about $16.5 million) U.K.–Japanese robotics project, called LongOps, will support the delivery of faster and safer decommissioning at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan and at Sellafield in the United Kingdom, using long-reach robotic arms.

The four-year collaboration on new robotics and automation techniques will also be applied to fusion energy research in the two countries.

Funded equally by U.K. Research and Innovation, the U.K.’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company, the LongOps project will be led by the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) facility.