High Costs of Demolition


Here’s another check mark on the list of “why we can’t afford more nuclear reactors”: the extremely high cost of tearing down the old ones. Disposing of a plant costs less than restoring it, but the sums are still staggering.

When Duke Energy expanded into Florida, the company came into possession of the Crystal River nuclear plant on the Gulf of Mexico shore. The plant closed in 2009, when attempted upgrades caused cracks in the containment building. The containment building is the reactor’s last line of defense against major radiation leaks. Without it, the reactor can not operate. The estimated costs of repair were $3.4 billion dollars, and the plant remained closed.

Duke originally proposed to keep the plant idle but intact until 2074. However, Duke took a new look at the costs of decommissioning the plant, and changed their tune. Duke has decided to recommend to federal regulators that the company be allowed to knock down and and cart away most of the facility by 2027.

What will that process cost? A mere $540 million.

Moreover, the proposed demolition process does not include removal of the reactor’s used fuel and assemblies. These waste products are incredibly toxic and radioactive. Under Duke’s planned disposal, that waste would remain on site, awaiting further hurricanes, storm surges, and sea level rise.
Perhaps there are safer coastal energy facilities we can construct instead — such as wind farms?

Up next, Mercury in the Water >>

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