Crystal River Nuclear Plant
On Feb. 5, 2013, Duke Energy announced its decision to retire the Crystal River Nuclear Plant, known as CR3, located on Florida’s Gulf Coast approximately 85 miles north of Tampa.
While replacing two 500-ton steam generators during a scheduled maintenance and refueling outage in October 2009, engineers discovered a delamination, or separation of concrete, within the containment building that surrounds the reactor vessel. Though crews successfully repaired the damage, additional delamination was discovered in two different areas of the containment building in 2011.
After completing a comprehensive, months-long analysis of costs, risks and other factors, the company determined that retiring the plant, instead of continuing to pursue a first-of-a-kind repair to the containment building, was in the best interests of customers and shareholders.
An independent review commissioned in 2012 confirmed that repairing the containment building was technically feasible but included significant risks that could raise the cost of the repair and extend the repair schedule significantly.
CR3 remains in a safe, stable condition and poses no threat to the health and safety of the public or our employees. Nuclear safety remains our top priority. Our comprehensive emergency preparedness plans and full-time, round-the-clock security force remain in place.
CR3 went into service March 13, 1977, generating on average 860 megawatts (MW) of electricity and helping to supply reliable, affordable and clean electricity to approximately 1.7 million customers in Florida.
The nuclear plant is co-located with four coal-fired units at the Crystal River Energy Complex, a 4,700 acre site that represents the largest energy complex on the Duke Energy Florida system. The four coal-fired units produce 2,290 megawatts of generation and employ approximately 345 people. Approximately 275 employees continue work at CR3 as part of the Decommissioning Transition Organization (DTO), not including the security force.
Eight municipal electric utilities and one electric cooperative own 8.2 percent of CR3. The Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) and electric cooperative joint-owner, Seminole Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SECI), represent the eight electric utilities.
Decommissioning a nuclear plant is significantly different from other industries. It is a well-defined, lengthy and proven process with a high level of engagement and oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
Nuclear reactors like CR3 that are permanently shut down and have no fuel in the reactor vessel present significantly different radiological risks from operating reactors. However, the obligation to adhere to certain NRC requirements of an operating reactor can only be eliminated through a series of license amendment requests (LARs) that are currently underway.
Decommissioning a nuclear plant involves removing the spent fuel rods (the fuel that has been in the reactor vessel), dismantling systems or components containing radioactive products (such as the reactor vessel) and dismantling contaminated materials from the facility. All activated materials generally have to be removed from the site and shipped to a waste-processing, storage or disposal facility.
Contaminated materials may be cleaned of contamination on site, cut off and removed (leaving most of the component intact in the facility) or removed and shipped to a waste-processing, storage or disposal facility. The company decides how to decontaminate materials based on the amount of contamination, the ease with which it can be removed and the cost to remove the contamination.
The NRC allows three decommissioning approaches:
- Immediate decontamination and dismantlement (DECON): Under the DECON option, soon after the nuclear facility closes, equipment, structures and portions of the facility containing radioactive contaminants are removed or decontaminated to a level that permits release of the property and termination of the NRC license.
- Safe storage (SAFSTOR) (also called delayed decontamination): Generally, this involves placing the facility into a safe storage configuration, requiring limited staffing to monitor plant conditions, until the eventual dismantling and decontamination activities occur, usually in 40 to 60 years.
- Entombment (ENTOMB): Under the ENTOMB option, radioactive contaminants are permanently encased on site in structurally sound material, such as concrete, and appropriately maintained and monitored until the radioactivity decays to a level permitting restricted release of the property. To date, no NRC-licensed facilities have requested the ENTOMB option.
Duke Energy has selected the SAFSTOR decommissioning option.
Timeline of Activities
On Feb. 5, 2013, Duke Energy announced the decision to retire the Crystal River Nuclear Plant instead of continuing to pursue a first-of-a-kind repair to the plant’s containment building.
Once the decision was made, CR3 leaders focused on helping employees through the transition, benchmarking other decommissioning plants to glean best practices, forming industry partnerships, developing internal project controls and procedures and submitting various documents to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
- Feb. 20, 2013: Filed official letters with the NRC, ceasing operations and acknowledging permanent removal of fuel from the reactor vessel, starting the decommissioning time clock.
- June 3, 2013: Implemented an in-house Decommissioning Transition Organization (DTO) to develop the schedule and estimated costs of the decommissioning.
- Aug. 1, 2013: Transitioned from Region II NRC oversight based in Atlanta, Ga., to Region I NRC oversight based in King of Prussia, Pa., with some exceptions, such as operator licensing and incident response (hurricane season). The NRC made this transition because staff in Region I have more experience with decommissioning plants where as Region II staff are more focused on new plant construction.
- Aug. 26, 2013: Issued the containment stabilization contract. As part of the decommissioning plan, we are performing work on the containment building to prepare it for long-term inactivity. Some of the work includes weather-proofing the containment building to minimize water intrusion, loosening (called de-tensioning) some of the tendons that surround the structure (to reduce stress on the building and ensure compliance with construction codes), re-greasing tensioned tendons (to prevent corrosion) and installing a concrete restraint system to prevent concrete from falling and to protect the spent fuel pool. Mobilization of crews and equipment started in October 2013, and the work will take about a year to complete. During the peak of the project, we anticipate having approximately 100 supplemental workers on site.
- Sept. 30, 2013: Submitted the Radiological Emergency Response Plan (RERP) revision license amendment request (LAR) to the NRC. The submittal, if approved, will establish new emergency action levels (EALs) to reflect our decommissioning condition, which is substantially different from the radiological risks of an operating plant. Ultimately, this means no plant condition would result in a site area emergency or general emergency (the two most serious NRC emergency classifications). The revised plan also defines our SAFSTOR conditions from an emergency preparedness perspective until the plant is eventually decontaminated and dismantled. The NRC is expected to complete its review of our submittal by the end of 2014.
- Oct. 31, 2013: Submitted the Permanently Defueled Technical Specifications LAR to the NRC. If approved, this submittal will allow us to greatly reduce the scope of our NRC license by eliminating or modifying items that only apply to an operating plant. For example, we could eliminate unnecessary license conditions, technical specifications, programs, manuals and reports. The NRC is expected to complete its review of our submittal by the fall of 2014.
- Dec. 2, 2013: Submitted the Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) to the NRC. The NRC requires decommissioning nuclear plants to submit the PSDAR within two years of filing their cessation of operations and permanent removal of the fuel from the reactor vessel letters. The PSDAR includes a description of the planned decommissioning activities, a schedule to complete those activities, a site-specific decommissioning cost estimate and a discussion of environmental impacts. The PSDAR also references CR3’s fuel management plan. The NRC reviews the PSDAR and holds public meetings to discuss the NRC’s decommissioning oversight process. The NRC public meeting is usually held within 60 days following the PSDAR submittal. Ninety days after we submit the PSDAR and site-specific cost estimate, we may begin major decommissioning activities and access 100 percent of our decommissioning fund.
History of 2009 and 2011 containment building delaminations
October 2009: The first delamination, or separation in the concrete, within CR3’s containment building occurred while workers were creating a 23-by-27 foot opening in the structure to allow the replacement of two 500-ton steam generators. The unit was already shutdown for scheduled refueling and maintenance when the damage occurred.
The company spent five years and tens of thousands of hours carefully planning the steam generator replacement project and followed industry-accepted procedures and models. Analysis has shown that the delamination could not have been predicted.
The root-cause analysis concluded that a redistribution of stresses on the containment wall caused the delamination following the containment opening activities. These activities created additional stress beyond the original containment design. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) inspection confirmed these findings.
- March 2011: After the first delamination was successfully repaired, the company performed a year-long, first-of-a-kind engineering study to determine how the building would respond to re-tensioning, or re-tightening, the tendons that surround the containment building. The model indicated a 95 percent confidence factor that the re-tensioning sequence would be successful. However, during the final stages of re-tensioning, engineers discovered that a different area of the containment structure had delaminated during the 100th step of a 112 step re-tensioning sequence.
- July 2011: Special monitors on the containment building indicated surface spalling. Spalling occurs when a small outside layer of concrete breaks away from a larger area of a concrete wall. After investigating the spalling, engineers discovered delamination in a third area of the containment structure. No work activities were occurring on the building at the time.
- Following the 2011 delaminations: The company engaged outside engineering experts to perform an analysis of possible repair options. The consultants analyzed 22 repair options and ultimately narrowed those options to four. The company, along with independent experts, reviewed the four options for technical, construction and licensing feasibility. The experts also analyzed the risk, benefits and costs of each option. Later in 2011, the company selected a preferred repair option for further engineering study and technical review. The preferred repair option included removing and replacing the majority of the containment building concrete.
Focus on Employees
When we announced the decision to retire CR3, we remained committed to helping employees through the transition, retaining our nuclear talent and redeploying as many employees as possible to other positions within the company.
To help employees through the transition, we met them one-on-one to understand their career preferences. We asked whether they wanted to stay on site to fill a temporary position within the Decommissioning Transition Organization (DTO), to redeploy to another position within the company or to leave the company with severance benefits. In many cases, based on business needs, we were able to fulfill employee preferences.
We also offered one-on-one and group counseling, held internal job fairs with specific company work groups and hired an on-site recruiter to help employees navigate the hiring process.
About 275 employees remain on site to work in the DTO (not including our security force). More than 200 employees have redeployed to other positions within the company. And about 100 employees have left the company and were offered severance benefits. Nuclear safety remains our top priority. Our comprehensive emergency preparedness plans and full-time, round-the-clock security force remain in place.
The Crystal River Energy Complex (CREC), which includes the Crystal River Nuclear Plant (CR3) and four coal-fired units, has been a vital part of Duke Energy’s ability to meet customer energy demands around-the-clock for more than four decades.
We remain committed to the area as evidenced by our 2013 announcement to “self-build” a 1,640 megawatt clean-burning combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County. If the self-build option is selected, construction and related activities are expected to add several million dollars to the local tax base and economy.
We have also supported various local agencies with financial contributions and volunteerism. Some examples include the following:
Holiday Hope program
Every year for more than a decade, the energy complex spreads holiday cheer by sponsoring underprivileged children, ages newborn to 18. Individuals or work groups fill holiday wish lists, ranging from basic necessities – such as clothes, shoes and blankets – to popular toys and music. Working with the Citrus County Family Resource Center, the energy complex has helped approximately 185 children in need in 2013.
United Way of Citrus County campaign
August through September 2013, the energy complex contributed nearly $6,600 to the United Way of Citrus County by sponsoring several grassroots fundraisers, including an ice cream social, $5 lunch plate, Buy Your Buddy a Baked Good and parking spaces auction. This campaign does not include the thousands of additional dollars employees contributed through payroll deductions.
Kings Bay Clean Up
In September 2013, approximately 120 Duke Energy Florida employees, including 27 employees from CR3, joined State President Alex Glenn and other company leaders to clean up Lyngbya algae from the bottom of Kings Bay in Crystal River as part of our Duke Energy In Action volunteer event. In all, the Florida team logged more than 700 person-hours and collected 12 tons of algae – setting records for the number of volunteers and amount raked in a single day.
George Washington Carver Community Center construction project
As part of two Duke Energy In Action volunteer events held in 2013, nearly four dozen CR3 employees logged about 250 person-hours to advance the George Washington Carver Community Center (GWCCC) construction project. The GWCCC is an 8,000-square-foot building located on the same site where the first African-American, one-room wooden schoolhouse once stood in Crystal River. CR3’s Harold Walker is on the GWCCC board and serves as the volunteer project manager. You will find Harold and his team almost every Saturday working to complete the project by February 2015.
School supply drive
Every school year, the energy complex hosts a school supply drive to benefit underprivileged children in Citrus County. In 2013, we provided 36 backpacks and 13 medium-size boxes filled with school supplies to the Citrus United Basket, a nonprofit organization.
National Nuclear Science Week activities
As part of the 2013 National Nuclear Science Week campaign, more than a dozen CR3 employees – equipped with infrared cameras and protective clothing used at the plant – participated in five educational events at local Boys and Girls Clubs and middle schools. In all, the CR3 team provided 16 presentations, teaching more than 400 students the importance of nuclear generation as an environmentally-friendly source of power.
Duke Energy Foundation
Frequently Asked Questions
What happened that led to the decision to decommission CR3?
Why did the company choose to decommission, instead of repair, CR3?
Who is leading the decommissioning activities at CR3?
What does the decommissioning decision mean for CR3 employees?
What is CR3’s decommissioning strategy?
How much will the decommissioning cost?
Will you raise customer rates to pay for the decommissioning?
Attend Open House
To increase awareness and understanding of CR3’s decommissioning plan, Duke Energy has scheduled an open house on Jan. 9, 2014, at the Plantation Inn located at 9301 W. Fort Island Trail in Crystal River. The event will be held from 2:30 – 7:30 p.m. in the Magnolia room.
Subject-matter experts will be available to meet with residents, hear concerns and answer questions about CR3’s decommissioning plan. Light refreshments will be served.Yes, I’d like to attend the open house.