FAQs

Decommissioning

  • What is decommissioning of a nuclear plant?

    Decommissioning is the process by which nuclear power plants are safely retired from service. The progression involves decontaminating the facility to reduce residual radioactivity, dismantling the structures, removing contaminated materials to appropriate disposal facilities and releasing the property for other uses. The owner remains accountable to the NRC until decommissioning has been completed and the agency has terminated its license.

  • How many nuclear plants have been decommissioned in the United States?

    More than a dozen U.S. commercial reactors have completed or are in different stages of decommissioning. A much larger number of non-commercial reactors have been decommissioned as well.

  • What is SAFSTOR?

    SAFSTOR means leaving the used nuclear in a safe condition in the plant’s fuel pool after the reactor is shutdown. The SAFSTOR phase may continue for decades until the plant is dismantled, and the fuel is placed in dry storage, or removed from the site.

  • How many workers does a decommissioning project employ?

    The number of workers varies through the duration of the project. It can reach as high as 300 during the peak of the dismantling period.

  • What roles do the local and federal government play in ensuring that decommissioning is carried out safely?

    Ensuring that the decommissioning is carried out safely is primarily the responsibility of the federal government which it exercises through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Many states also have citizens advisory panels that engage with the plant to understand and monitor the decommissioning process.

  • Is there a possibility that the workers may receive excessive radiation dose at a decommissioning site?

    There has never been an instance of a worker receiving excessive dose in any decommissioning site. This is because the decommissioning activities are carried out using detailed procedures by highly trained workers.

  • Why do communities support a shorter decommission period?

    Most communities would like the land occupied by the site to be repurposed for an alternative use so local jobs can be created, and the town can regain lost tax revenue.

  • What are the major steps that impact the duration of decommissioning?

    The time to convert a shuttered nuclear plant into a reusable property consists of several steps. Major steps include the:

    • Time to transfer the plant’s fuel to dry storage
    • Time to decontaminate the facility
    • Time to dismantle the facility
  • What is Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI)?

    HDI is a subsidiary of Holtec International and the NRC license holder for the nuclear plants the company acquires.

  • What is Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI)?

    CDI is a joint venture of Holtec International and SNC-Lavalin. CDI’s goal is the timely retirement of nuclear power plants by applying today’s innovative technologies toward a safer and more predictable decommissioning program.

  • How can Holtec decommission in only a few years when other plants seem to take longer?

    Part of decommissioning is moving the spent nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pool to an onsite dry storage facility called an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (or ISFSI) which used to take five or more years after reactor shutdown. Holtec has dry storage systems, which allow the transfer to be done in less than three years. With the spent nuclear fuel on the ISFSI, other decommissioning activities can be safely started sooner and performed more efficiently.

  • How many decommissioning projects is Holtec doing?

    Holtec is now the licensed operator and owner of Oyster Creek. A license transfer application has been submitted for Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. Once this application is approved, an ownership sale can take place. In the near future, license transfer application will be submitted for Palisades Nuclear Generating Station and Indian Point Energy Center.

  • How can the local community be sure that a decommissioning project will be completed?

    In addition to safety performance, the financial expenditure on the project is closely monitored by the NRC. If the expenditure were to overrun the projected spend rate, then the NRC can require the owner to provide supplemental financial guarantees. No decommissioning project has ever been left unfinished by a contractor.