Accelerated decommissioning for Crystal River

31 May 2019

US utility Duke Energy has announced plans to decommission the single-unit Crystal River nuclear power plant in Florida by 2027. Decommissioning of the plant, which was permanently shut down in 2013, had originally been expected to take an additional 50 years to complete.

The Crystal River nuclear power plant (Image: Duke Energy)

The 860 MWe pressurised water reactor was taken offline in September 2009 for a 20% uprate, but this was never completed after complications concerning the reactor building containment. The plant was declared permanently shut down in February 2013. At that time, Duke Energy said it expected decommissioning of the plant to be completed by 2074.

Yesterday the company announced an accelerated decommissioning plan for Crystal River, under which decommissioning work will begin in 2020 and end in 2027.

Duke Energy's plan is subject to approval by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Florida Public Service Commission. This approval process is expected to take about a year to complete.

The utility has contracted with Accelerated Decommissioning Partners - a joint venture between NorthStar Group Services and Orano USA - to carry out the decommissioning work. The contract structure provides Duke Energy customers financial protection and transfers project execution risks to Accelerated Decommissioning Partners, including potential cost overruns and unknown conditions.

If regulators approve the plan, Duke Energy will remain the NRC-licensed owner of the plant, property and equipment, and retain ownership and control of the trust fund that pays for the decommissioning. In turn, Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will become the NRC-licensed operator responsible for decommissioning the plant in compliance with all state and federal regulations. Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will also own the dry cask storage system assets, including the used nuclear fuel assemblies, and operate and maintain the on-site dry cask storage facility.

"Selling the dry cask storage assets allows Duke Energy to transfer all aspects of used fuel management, including operating and maintenance costs, to us," said Scott State, CEO of Accelerated Decommissioning Partners. "Owning the dry cask storage system assets closely aligns with our industry expertise and business strategy."

The Crystal River nuclear plant is located at Duke Energy's Crystal River Energy Complex on Florida's Gulf Coast, about 85 miles north of Tampa. The complex is also home to the new Citrus Combined Cycle Station, two operating coal-fired units and two retired coal-fired units.

"Accelerating the decommissioning allows for faster restoration and redevelopment of the nuclear plant property for Duke Energy's reuse one day," the utility said. "The company has not yet determined how it might repurpose the property but has no plans to sell it."

In a separate agreement, Duke Energy hired NorthStar Group Services to dismantle the coal-fired units, which formally retired on 31 December 2018. Dismantling the coal-fired units is expected to start in 2019 and finish in 2023.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News