Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Will Holtec nuclear waste cans be safe long after Holtec ceases to exist ?

Holtec and SNC-Lavalin presumably make money if the decommissioning can be done for less than $1 billion. What the public and the regulators need to watch now is how well it is done — no cutting corners, no substandard materials, no shoddy work. We need to know that the oceanfront site in Plymouth will be safe for generations to come with no health risk to people in Southeastern Massachusetts. If that isn’t the case when Holtec leaves, it is taxpayers who will have to pick up the tab to make things right. We don’t want that to happen.

OUR OPINION: Keep a watchful eye on decommissioning of Plymouth nuclear plant Metro West Daily News 9 Aug 18

First the good news: In 10 years, the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth could be gone.

Now the bad news: Well, there really isn’t any, if everything goes exactly as planned and if someplace in New Mexico decides it wants to house some of the nation’s most incredibly dangerous nuclear leftovers.

Those are pretty big ifs, as is everything about decommissioning a nuclear power plant. And it is a very long shot that there won’t be 60 or so big tanks sitting upright on the plant site in 2028. They will be filled with rods containing the spent nuclear fuel that powered the plant. That spent fuel will be intensely radioactive for many thousands of years.

………. Entergy announced last week (Wednesday, Aug. 1) that it was selling Pilgrim to Holtec International of Florida. Holtec and a Canadian company, SNC-Lavalin Group of Montreal, had set up a joint venture company, Comprehensive Decommissioning International, to take on the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. Holtec and SNC-Lavalin are both substantial players in the fields of engineering, construction, manufacturing and project management, and have experience with nuclear operations. Entergy plans to shut down Pilgrim next June. It will then remove the last of the fuel rods before finalizing the sale to Holtec in 2020. The state and the federal government must approve the sale.

Under federal rules, the operators of the Pilgrim plant have set aside $1 billion over the life of the plant for decommissioning. As announced by Entergy, Holtec will get that billion dollars, the 1,500 acres and the operating license for the nuclear plant. Holtec and SNC-Lavalin get all the headaches that will come with decommissioning. None of the companies involved made public the financial terms of the sale. Holtec will end up owning the spent fuel rods.

Holtec and SNC-Lavalin could wait up to 60 years for radiation to decline before completing demolition and removal of the plant and equipment. The companies instead say they will employ new technologies for “accelerated decommissioning” and have everything gone in eight year. The goal is to make the land available for unrestricted use with the exception of any area needed for storage of the spent fuel. If all that happens on schedule, it will be very good news for Plymouth and surrounding communities and for the people downwind on Cape Cod who feel they would probably get most of the fallout if anything went seriously wrong.

Thousands of spent fuel rods, still highly radioactive and lethally dangerous, are stored at nuclear power plants throughout the country. There are roughly 140 million pounds of them stored in pools of water or in vertical tanks, called dry casks, made with tons of steel and concrete and liners of lead and other materials to absorb radiation. It will take 60 or so of these dry casks to store all the spent fuel from Pilgrim. The federal government long wanted to store spent fuel rods under a Nevada mountain. Opposition from that state, and questions about the geologic stability of the site, scuttled that plan. Holtec, which manufactures dry casks, is pushing for a license to operate a subterranean storage facility in New Mexico. If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves, and New Mexico and local communities agree, spent fuel from Holtec projects would get priority at the site. All the spent fuel from Pilgrim could be gone to New Mexico in a decade, if that happens. Please don’t bet the farm, the ranch or the house on it.

……… Holtec and SNC-Lavalin presumably make money if the decommissioning can be done for less than $1 billion. What the public and the regulators need to watch now is how well it is done — no cutting corners, no substandard materials, no shoddy work. We need to know that the oceanfront site in Plymouth will be safe for generations to come with no health risk to people in Southeastern Massachusetts. If that isn’t the case when Holtec leaves, it is taxpayers who will have to pick up the tab to make things right. We don’t want that to happen. http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/opinion/20180809/our-opinion-keep-watchful-eye-on-decommissioning-of-plymouth-nuclear-plant

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August 10, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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