Thursday, 30 May 2013

Kewaunee nuclear power plant shutdown cost is nearly $1 billion
20 Apr 2013

When the Kewaunee Power Station stops generating electricity next month, a new chapter in its life will open-one that could last until the 2070s and cost nearly $1 billion.

The plant operators will begin the process of decommissioning the nuclear power plant, an endeavor that aims to restore the site along Lake Michigan to what it looked like in the 1960s, before the facility was built. Kewaunee owner Dominion Resources Inc, has announced it will shut the plant on May 7, a move that is expected to result in the loss of hundreds of jobs.

The reactor is closing because the Wisconsin utilities that had purchased its electricity declined to continue buying it, citing the low price of natural gas. Dominion put the power plant up for sale in 2011, but no buyer emerged. So in a few short weeks, the mission of those who work at Kewaunee will change from generating power to cleaning up the power plant site.

"We've got 60 years to turn it back to a 'greenfield' site", said Mark Kanz, spokesman for Dominion. "At some point it basically has to look like the farm fields in the 1960s, before any construction started here".

As part of the decommissioning, all buildings on the 900 acre site east of Green Bay will be torn down and low-level radioactive waste will be shipped out of state. What could remain on site for generations, however, are the concrete casks of spent nuclear fuel-the high-level radioactive waste that is changed out every 18 months when a reactor refuels.

The federal government is responsible for the cleanup of the spent fuel, with the Department of Energy accessing a separate decommissioning fund paid for by Wisconsin ratepayers for the cost of placing spent fuel in storage and a possible move to a long-term disposal site.

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