State regulators Tuesday approved a plan aimed at dramatically speeding up the decontamination and restoration of the site of Duke Energy Florida’s shuttered Crystal River nuclear-power plant. The Florida Public Service Commission backed Duke’s plan to enter a $540 million contract with the firm Accelerated Decommissioning Partners, LLC to conduct what is known as “decommissioning” work at the plant.
The plan is aimed at moving up the completion of the decommissioning work from 2074 to 2038. Money for the project is slated to come from a trust fund that received money from customers from 1982 to 2002, according to the Public Service Commission. “Duke’s transaction requires no additional funds from its customers, and mitigates any risk from the plant’s otherwise long-term dormancy,” commission Chairman Gary Clark said in a prepared statement after the approval. “Customers will also benefit from the plan’s fixed price and elimination of continued execution and property maintenance risk.”
Duke decided in 2013 to permanently shut down the damaged plant after years of uncertainty about whether the plant would ever again produce electricity. The plant, which began operating in 1977, faced an initial shutdown after a containment building was damaged in 2009 during a project to replace a steam generator. In early 2011, as the plant was getting prepared to operate again, additional cracks were discovered in different parts of the containment building.
The additional cracks — damage known in the nuclear industry as “delamination” — touched off a complicated debate about whether the utility, then known as Progress Energy Florida, should permanently close the plant or try to repair it. Commissioners approved the decommissioning plan Tuesday with little discussion, after holding a detailed hearing last month.
–News Service of Florida