PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) – Companies specializing in the management of radioactive material buy US nuclear reactors from utility companies and promise to clean and demolish them in a dramatically shorter time than usual – eight years instead of 60 years Some cases.
The transfer of nuclear power plants to and from external companies in such a fast lane represents a completely new approach in the United States that has never been accomplished in this country, and also includes new technologies.
Proponents say the accelerated method can eliminate a threat more quickly and use the country productively earlier. But supervisors, activists, and others are asking if fast schedules are safe and if companies have the expertise and financial resources to get the job done.
"We were in the arms that it was 60 years," said Janet Tauro, director of The Environmental Group New Jersey Clean Water Action, reported on the initial plans to decommission the Oyster Creek facility. "And then we hear it's accelerating to eight years, it's great to leave it behind, but are there any corners that need to be cut?"
Once a reactor is shut down, the radioactive mess must be eliminated, The most common approach may take decades if the plant is in a long period of rest while radioactive elements are slowly decaying.
Burnt fuel rods that can no longer sustain a nuclear reaction remain According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, they are usually placed in water basins for cooling and remain there for at least five years, with 10 years being the industry standard, after which they are removed and filled into huge cylindrical drums typically made of steel and encased in concrete.
Holtec Inte However, nationally, several nuclear power plants have retired or are retiring shortly last year. Holtec, a company with more than 30 years of experience in radioactive waste management, has completed a contract to purchase Oyster Creek in the US Forked River last year , New Jersey, by its owner, Exelon Generation.
There have also been offers to purchase multiple works from Entergy Corp. completed, including: Pilgrim in historic Plymouth, Massachusetts, ending May 31; Palisades in Covert, Michigan, is decommissioned in 2022; and two reactors are expected to close within two years at Indian Point, Buchanan, New York.
"Our commitment to the nuclear industry includes taking ownership of decommissioned nuclear power plants so that we can safely and efficiently decommission the facilities so that the land can be decommissioned," said Joy Russell, spokeswoman for Holtec an e-mail.
The planned sales are about to be approved by NRC. Decisions expected in the coming weeks and months In the wake of the nuclear shutdown, concluded the purchase of Vermont Yankee from Entergy with plans to accelerate its decommissioning.
The full financial details of the pending deals have not been disclosed. However, if the agreements are approved, Holtec will inherit the billionaire decommissioning fund set up by the utilities, which will be available for the final decommissioning of the facilities.
The Company may retain the remaining remnants following the refurbishment of the investment in each Fund. Holtec and Northstar also expect the federal government to recover money for spent fuel storage during and after decommissioning, as there is no national disposal facility for highly active nuclear waste products.
The companies that go into the business believe you can make a profit. For utilities, such deals mean that they do not have to oversee long, complex projects with decades of work and guarding hazardous waste around the clock.
While there is a risk of redirecting spent fuel too quickly, experts point out there are dangers while fuel rods are in the tanks, including the danger of catastrophic fire or leakage due to a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other event.
"There's a natural tendency to say, 'Oh, they are. If you make it fast, they'll make mistakes, it will not be safe,' said Rod McCullum, senior director of decommissioning and used fuel at the Nuclear Energy Institute , a Washington-based advocacy group for nuclear energy. "They actually become safer by getting faster."
However, in the legal briefs filed with the NRC, Massachusetts officials expressed skepticism about Holtec's plan to decommission Pilgrim on an accelerated schedule that had "never been achieved". Holtec has never made a decommissioning start.
Holtec underwent a review last August of the slightly less aggressive shutdown of the San Onofre plant in Southern California, which shut down two reactors in 2013 and 2013. The estimated completion date is 2030.
Holtec contractors have a 45- Barrel barrel for spent fuel dropped into an underground storage vault in San Onofre when it was misaligned and nearly 18 feet deep. No radiation was released.
US regulators fined $ 116,000 against Edison in Southern California, the owner of the facility. An investigation found that some Holtec procedures were inadequate or were not properly followed The sale of Pilgrim was blocked, but the incident in California was cited while questioning whether the funds from the trust fund would be sufficient for the shutdown of Pilgrim, to cover unexpected delays or exceedances funds. State officials have labeled this upholstery "poor" and warned of "significant health, safety, environmental, financial and economic risks."
Holtec said his equipment had never been involved in a major accident and was a cost estimate.
Pilgrim, located along the scenic, polluting Cape Cod Bay and retired after 47 years, has experienced unplanned shutdowns in the past and has recently been removed from NRC's list of least reliable reactors in the country.
The Citizen The Pilgrim Watch group, which has long been pushing for the closure of the plant, is suspicious of what is to come during decommissioning.
"The story is not over yet. There is a sequel, "said Mary Lampert, the director of the organization. "And sometimes the sequel, like in the movies, is worse than the main show."