- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Omaha Public Power District is set to vote on whether to close the nation’s smallest nuclear power plant in Fort Calhoun.

The district board will vote on the fate of Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station on Thursday, the Omaha World-Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1XpcqR6 ). President and CEO of the Omaha Public Power District Tim Burke told its board of directors last month that it’s no longer financially sustainable to operate the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station

Once closed, a nuclear plant must undergo a decommissioning process to remove or decontaminate materials and equipment that have been exposed to radioactivity. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires decommissioning to be completed within 60 years of a plant’s closing.

Cleaning up the site after its closure is estimated to cost about $1 billion. The power district has about $381 million saved for the decommissioning effort.

The U.S Energy Department reimburses nuclear plant operators for costs associated with storing spent fuel because there is no designated site for storing the radioactive waste from nuclear power generation. According to the utility’s division manager of corporate planning and analysis Mary Fisher, the reimbursement could be a source of decommissioning funds.

Officials said last year that the power plant costs about $250 million a year to operate.

Burke has recommended using a decommissioning method called Safstor that would give the utility the full 60 years to let radioactivity at the plant decay naturally and to fully dismantle the plant.

Burke said that he does not think it will take 60 years to fully shut down the plant, but the method would give officials financial and regulatory flexibility.

Another decommissioning method known as Decon would be a shorter-term option that requires a more immediate dismantling and decontamination, but with steeper upfront costs. Under Burke’s plan, the plant would eventually transition into Decon as all decommissioned nuclear power plant must.

The utility would spend about $500 million in the next ten years if it follows Burke’s recommendation. If the Decon method is immediately used, costs are estimated to top $800 million by 2026.

The utility has said that there would not be a general electricity rate increase through at least 2021 if the nuclear power plant is closed.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com


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