In the U.S., 29 reactors are in various stages of decommissioning, according to NRC. Of these, 11 are considered completely decommissioned, said Michael F. Weber, NRC deputy executive director, at the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee hearing. When a nuclear power plant’s operations cease, fuel is removed from the reactor, Weber said. Next, a plant’s owner has two years to submit to NRC a decommissioning plan and schedule for rendering the site safe for restricted and unrestricted use. However, during decommissioning—and even at most of the 11 reactors considered decommissioned—spent fuel remains on-site, Weber said. Spent fuel has been removed from the sites of only nine of the 29 reactors going through decommissioning. Those nine are the oldest and smallest of decommissioned facilities, NRC data indicate. In part, what’s holding up the decommissioning process is the lack of a storage place for large quantities of spent fuel and other radioactive waste because the U.S. has failed to construct a permanent high-level radioactive waste repository.
by Jeff Johnson |
June 02, 2014