Kewaunee Power Plant Operator Speeds Up Parts of Decommissioning - WBAY

Kewaunee Power Plant Operator Speeds Up Parts of Decommissioning Process

Dominion Resources, the operator of the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant, is taking steps to speed up the nearly $1 billion decommissioning process.

The plant was shut down in May of 2013 and officials say it could take up to 60 years to return it to a green space.

The company says the new actions will be safe and condense part of the timeline, but people who live nearby have concerns. 

Thirty-nine years of spent uranium fuel remains on site at the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant. Some of it is in dry containers, the rest is in pools. 

Dominion says the sooner it can move all the fuel out of the building it is currently located in and into long-term storage, the quicker it can reduce the staff needed to secure the building and saving money.

"The initial decommissioning estimates were $937 million, I believe," said Dominion local affairs manager Mark Kanz. "Right now that estimate is at $846 million to complete the entire project."

On top of those savings, the fuel will be moved four years sooner and have it all transferred by 2016 instead of 2020.

Dominion hired NAC from Atlanta, Georgia to start building 24 18-foot tall concrete storage silos on site in 2015.

Company officials say this plan should also please people who live nearby.

"One of the things we heard the community say is they would like to see the decommissioning happen sooner than 60 years," said Kanz.

But, the chairman of the Town of Carlton, where the plant is located, wonders if safety is being compromised, remembering hearing last year that the spent fuel must cool in a pool for at least seven years before it can be placed in a dry container.

Some of the spent fuel will only be 3 years old.

"Now all of a sudden you speed that up?" questions Chairman David Hardtke. "I would like to see the buildings and things removed from there as early as possible, but not when you jeopardize the safety of the people around here."

Dominion says NAC's technology allows for the spent fuel to be removed safely, even after just three years in the pool.

Plus, it says the plan is already approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"It belongs to the federal government as soon as they have a place to put it, a federal repository, then it will no longer be here on site. When that is is anybody's guess," Kanz adds.

Dominion had to apply for a permit to construct the 18-foot tall concrete containers.

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