Horrendous cost of burying a dead nuclear power plant

consultancy Arthur D. Little has put the total costs at no less than €18 billion…..

Dismantling a nuclear plant until it has completely vanished can take several decades, depending on which technique is used.

the process of fully decommissioning a plant can take more than 40 years,

Germany’s pricey nuclear burial, Climate Spectator , 18 Jul 2012, Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff  “…..by 2014, almost nothing will be left of what once was Germany’s first commercial boiling water reactor. Germany’s decision to shut down all nuclear plants by 2022,

sparked by last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, is a done deal……

… a giant hole in the ground where the reactor vessel used to be. Work to decommission plants mainly includes removing and disposing of contaminated material as well as decommissioning the plants themselves while making sure that no radiation spreads.

Spent fuel from reactors needs to be encased and then transported to safe fuel dumps while cooling towers, often regarded a blight on landscapes, then need demolishing…..

Today, the four operators of nuclear plants in Germany – E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall – have made a total of more than €30 billion ($36.7 billion) in provisions for the dismantling of the plants and the disposal of nuclear waste.
Germany’s No.2 utility RWE estimates that dismantling its two reactors
at Biblis will cost €1.5 billion, excluding storage costs for the
nuclear waste.
E.ON, the country’s largest utility, sees costs of €1.1 billion per
plant for both dismantling and the disposal of radioactive material.
Men at work
But estimates for the total costs of dismantling all nuclear plants in
Germany differ widely due to the complex nature of the process, with
Greenpeace expecting at least €44 billion, while consultancy Arthur D.
Little has put the total costs at no less than €18 billion…..
For those who have chosen to abandon their nuclear programmes,
utilities will not be able to do all the dismantling work themselves,
so specialised players may be best placed to benefit from the need to
dismantle, a process that is expected to last for decades.
France’s Areva, Westinghouse Electric Company LLC – jointly owned by
Japan’s Toshiba, US engineering company Shaw Group and IHI Corp – and
Germany’s Nukem Technologies, could all satisfy the need for growing
expertise in the field.
“It is clear to us that more work will be coming on the market,” said
Ulf Kutscher, chief executive of Nukem Technologies, part of Russian
state-owned nuclear company Rosatom.
The company specialises in the disposal of nuclear waste as well as
the decommissioning of nuclear plants and has experience in several
European countries, including France, where it is helping with the
dismantling of the nuclear power plant in Brennilis.
“But we do not know how much work will ultimately be done by the
utilities themselves. I could imagine that they will do a good deal of
the dismantling,” Kutscher said.
RWE, for example, has in the past signalled it may offer such services.
Among other tasks, Germany’s Energiewerke Nord GmbH (EWN) plans and
carries out large dismantling projects, including the remote
decommissioning of strongly contaminated parts such as the reactor
“As long as the nuclear fuels remain in the plants, the dismantling
process cannot start,” EWN managing director Juergen Ramthun said,
adding it could take 5-7 years until all fuel elements have been
removed and the plant is ready for dismantling.
Entombment vs dismantling
Dismantling a nuclear plant until it has completely vanished can take several decades, depending on which technique is used.
So-called nuclear entombment aims to seal off some radioactive
material for decades to let radiation levels decline, therefore making
the process of dismantling easier at a later stage.
Using this technique, the process of fully decommissioning a plant can
take more than 40 years, much longer than the process of direct
dismantling, which usually takes about 10-12 years.
E.ON, operator of the Wuergassen plant, has said dismantling that
plant alone will cost €700 million.
“We have decided to choose the process of direct dismantling,” said
E.ON spokeswoman Petra Uhlmann.
With a volume of about 423,000 tonnes, 5,000 of which are nuclear
waste, Wuergassen plant’s weight is on par with that of roughly 800
Airbus A380 planes.
After being decontaminated, parts of the plant can be recycled. For
example, the two cooling towers of the plant – once overtopping the
village – were later used to help build a skating rink in the nearby
town of Beverungen.
“There are 640 rooms that all need to be approved before they can be
broken down. That’s equal to 140,000 square metres,” Klimmek said,
walking through a labyrinth of abandoned and run-down hallways that
lead to the former control room…..

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