US utility Duke Energy on 30 May announced plans to decommission the single-unit Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida by 2027.
Crystal River 3, an 860MWe pressurised water reactor was permanently shut down in 2013 and decommissioning was originally expected to take 50 years and to be completed by 2074. The plant was taken offline in 2009 for a 20% uprate, but this was never completed. During the outage, Duke Energy (then known as Progress Energy Florida) damaged the containment wall around the reactor while trying to install a new steam generator. After one failed attempt to repair the containment wall, the cost of repairs became an issue during the 18 months it took Duke Energy to complete its $32 billion purchase of Progress Energy which was completed in 2012.
Under Duke’s accelerated decommissioning plan, work will begin in 2020 and end in 2027. The plan still requires approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Florida Public Service Commission which is expected to take about a year to complete. Duke contracted with Accelerated Decommissioning Partners - a joint venture between NorthStar Group Services and Orano USA - to carry out the work. Under the contract, Duke customers are offered financial protection while project execution risks are transferred to Accelerated Decommissioning Partners, including potential cost overruns and unknown conditions.
Assuming approvals are granted, Duke Energy will remain the owner of the plant, property and equipment, and retain ownership and control of the trust fund that pays for the decommissioning. Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will become the NRC-licensed operator, and will be responsible for decommissioning the plant in compliance with all state and federal regulations. Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will also own the dry cask storage system, including the used nuclear fuel assemblies, and operate and maintain the on-site dry cask storage facility.
"Accelerating the decommissioning allows for faster restoration and redevelopment of the nuclear plant property for Duke Energy's reuse one day," a statement said.
Duke Energy has not yet determined how it might repurpose the property, but has no plans to sell it, it added.