Duke Energy is keeping its options open for eventual decommissioning of its retired Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida.
In a request last week to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to release the bulk of the Crystal River property for unrestricted use, the Charlotte, N.C.-based power company mentioned that “Duke Energy is still considering beginning active decommissioning,”
“We routinely get offers/requests from companies to do decommissioning differently from what is currently planned (SAFSTOR – 60-year timeline),” Duke spokeswoman Heather Danenhower said this week by email. “Considering different options is prudent for any utility to consider. Therefore, in November 2017, we started researching the options, feasibility and costs of expediting CR3’s decontamination and dismantlement. Last year, we initiated a request for proposals process, and that confidential process is still underway. If we decide changing our decommissioning plan is feasible, we will notify regulators and other stakeholders.”
Duke Energy formally retired Crystal River in 2013 rather than try to fix its containment building. In 2015, the reactor went into SAFSTOR – the decommissioning mode in which the facility is largely untouched while radiation levels drop and funding is built up for active cleanup. Under SAFSTOR, nuclear utilities have up to six decades to complete decommissioning. Duke expects to finish the job in 2074.
Danenhower emphasized that no decision has been made to switch from SAFSTOR to a faster decommissioning approach.
As of Sept. 30, 2018, Duke had $734 million in its decommissioning trust fund for Crystal River. In June 2018, Duke submitted an updated cost estimate for the NRC that put the decommissioning cost at roughly $896 million. This estimate includes approximately $749 million for license termination activities, $95 million for spent fuel management, and $52 million for site restoration, Danenhower wrote.