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Power Government The Almighty Buck

San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant Dismantling Will Cost $4.4 Billion, Take 20 Years 343

Posted by samzenpus
from the shutting-it-down dept.
mdsolar writes with news about the closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant. Dismantling the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California will take two decades and cost $4.4 billion. Southern California Edison on Friday released a road map that calls for decommissioning the twin-reactor plant and restoring the property over two decades, beginning in 2016. U-T San Diego says it could be the most expensive decommissioning in the 70-year history of the nuclear power industry. But Edison CEO Ted Craver says there's already enough money to pay for it. Edison shut down the plant in 2012 after extensive damage was found to tubes carrying radioactive water. It was closed for good last year.
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San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant Dismantling Will Cost $4.4 Billion, Take 20 Years

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  • Not a bad deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Sunday August 03, 2014 @10:47AM (#47593853)
    For 2 units, plus a third already shut down one on the site, this is not too bad a cost. Considering the overall lifetime cost of the plant, including D&D, and even though it shut down early, on a cost per kwh basis, it is a good deal for emission free generation.

    Unfortunately, many will look at the cost and not have a good perspective / basis for comparison.
    • For 2 units, plus a third already shut down one on the site, this is not too bad a cost..

      But we could do it for far less if we mothballed the plant for a decade or two while developing robots to do most of the dismantling work. Using humans to handle radioactive materials is very expensive.

      • by jythie (914043)
        Maybe, maybe not. It is difficult to predict what the economics of future technology will be. It is difficult to plan around what might exist a decade or two from now.
      • Where are the rad-hardened teleoperators we need for nuclear cleanup now? Quotations of generations-long cleanup times strike me as a ploy to make future reactors "too expensive" by inflating decommissioning costs. Ditto for us not opening that already-built safe storage facility in Nevada.

    • Considering the overall lifetime cost of the plant, including D&D, ...

      Perhaps they can save even more by not paying people to play Dungeons and Dragons.

    • While the actual generation of nuclear power in the plant may not have emitted CO2 or other burn products, you can hardly call this emissions free. Don't forget that mining the uranium ore, transporting the uranium ore and some more steps in the production process is done with fossil fuels. Nuclear waste is also a form of emission. Even if it's not directly related to greenhouse effects, it will cause severe effects on humans and nature if not taken care of (in an expensive way). All things considered, nucl
      • Yes, mining and those things does cause emissions. That is also true of Solar PV, for instance. Not only mining of the semiconductor materials, but there is also some nasty chemical processes used in manufacture, then transportation from Asia, delivering on land and so forth. So, you are correct, if you factor in those types of things, no source is emission free.
  • by calidoscope (312571) on Sunday August 03, 2014 @10:51AM (#47593867)
    Decommissioning costs are still a lot less than it would cost to build the plant now. Letting the plant cool down for a few years makes the process simpler and safer, though the reactor vessel is going to be a challenge.
  • Edison CEO Ted Craver says there's already enough money to pay for it, because Ted can declare bankruptcy on Southern California Edison, making the property a superfund site for taxpayers to pay for. SC Edison would then emege through chapter 11, restructure itself, and continue service in Southern California under another name. its precisely what Hooker Chemical Corporation did after the love canal disaster.
    • by Solandri (704621) on Sunday August 03, 2014 @11:26AM (#47594031)
      The money for the reactor's decommissioning comes from surcharges to electrical rates collected while the plant was in operation. This money was earmarked specifically for reactor decommissioning costs, and placed into a trust fund which currently contains about $2.7 billion (the $4.4 billion cost will be accrued over several decades, so interest on the $2.7 billion makes them more equal than the raw numbers suggest). That there is sufficient money despite the reactor shutting down only halfway through its expected lifetime means there's a huge margin for error in these nuclear decommissioning funds. Edison has said if there's any money left over, it'll be refunded to rate payers.
      • Big comfort for the dead ratepayers after the 20 year decomissioning project is over. Still better than going to executive perks.

  • by photonic (584757) on Sunday August 03, 2014 @11:29AM (#47594043)
    I hope my math is correct: Taking numbers from wikipedia [wikipedia.org], considering only units 2 and 3: both were in operation for a bit more than 29 years and were producing about 1 GW at full power. Ignoring any production time lost for maintenance (my guess is they would run with a duty cycle of 80-90%), the total amount of produced kWh would be: 29 years * 365 days/year * 24 hours/day * 2 GW = 5e14 Wh = 5e11 kWh. The price for the decommissioning would thus come down to around 4.4e9 $ / 5e11 kWh = 0.0086 $/kWh, so let's round it up to 1 cent per kWh. Average price for electricity in the US [eia.gov] seems to be around 0.10 $/kW, so the cost for the decommissioning seems acceptable, though not negligible.
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Consider though that the cost of nuclear power is almost entirely in the construction and decommissioning of the reactors. The only other significant costs are labor and maintenance - the cost of nuclear fuel is negligible - some fraction of a cent per kWh, though of course there's also waste storage costs, whether they're paid in money or environmental contamination. Which makes the fact that fuel reprocessing is no longer the norm completely inexcusable - it virtually eliminates the long-term waste stor

    • Thanks for showing the numbers. It would have worked out better, of course, had San O units operated for their 40 year life or longer. Many US nuclear plants are already licensed to operate for 60 years, so the relative cost might even be significantly lower in those cases, as well as a longer period of fund development.
  • The spent fuel is going to just be sitting there. So, they won't really be finishing the job of decommissioning. The waste at Humboldt Bay is vulnerable to sea level rise so the story there is even less complete.
  • ...to put those big scary "$4.4 billion" numbers in there without context. It sounds like a lot of money (especially to people unfamiliar with the industry) but that number is the retail value of approximately 18 months of electrical generation for units 2 & 3 at San Onofre.

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