Crystal River Nuclear Plant
In July 2015, the decommissioning Crystal River Nuclear Plant, known as CR3, reached its SAFSTOR condition.
SAFSTOR is one of three decommissioning options approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and a common option selected by other retired nuclear plants.
With SAFSTOR, the plant is placed in a safe, stable condition and maintained in that state until it is decontaminated and dismantled at the end of the storage period.
Systems that are not required to support the used fuel pool, site surveillance or security are drained, de-energized and secured. However, various activities continue, such as 24-hour security force, preventative and corrective maintenance on certain systems and radiological and environmental monitoring programs.
The schedule for CR3’s decommissioning activities uses the 60 years allowed by NRC regulation. The unit will remain in SAFSTOR until site restoration activities are completed in 2074.
The 60-year timeline allows radioactivity to decay naturally over time. This provides a safer work environment for employees involved in the decontamination and dismantlement and reduces cleaning and shipping costs. The timeline also allows the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund to continue to grow and the Department of Energy to develop its long-term used fuel storage strategy for the U.S.
Duke Energy may modify this timeline. However, the NRC must be notified in writing before performing any significant decommissioning activity inconsistent with the decommissioning plan.
The estimated cost funded from the decommissioning trust is $1.18 billion in 2013 dollars. With the SAFSTOR option, the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund is sufficient to pay for the decommissioning without increasing customer bills. However, annual analysis will be required.
On Feb. 5, 2013, Duke Energy announced its decision to retire CR3 instead of pursue a first-of-its-kind repair to the plant’s containment building.
While replacing two 500-ton steam generators during a scheduled maintenance and refueling outage in 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.
CR3 went into service March 13, 1977, generating on average 860 megawatts of electricity and helping to supply reliable, affordable and clean electricity to approximately 1.7 million customers in Florida.
The nuclear plant is located at the Crystal River Energy Complex, home to four coal-fired units, a Mariculture Center (fish hatchery) and the new Citrus County combined-cycle natural gas plant construction project. The complex is more than 4,700 acres and represents the largest energy complex on the Duke Energy Florida system. The complex employs more than 600 people, not including contractors and security officers.
Decommissioning a nuclear plant is significantly different from other industries. It is a well-defined 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 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 currently underway.
Decommissioning a nuclear plant involves removing the used 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. Duke Energy will decide 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 in a safe storage configuration, requiring limited staffing to monitor plant conditions, until the eventual decontamination and dismantling 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, a common option selected by other retired nuclear plants. The schedule for CR3's decommissioning activities uses the 60 years allowed by NRC regulation. The unit safely reached its SAFSTOR condition in July 2015.
Timeline of Activities
On Feb. 5, 2013, Duke Energy announced the decision to retire the Crystal River Nuclear Plant instead of pursuing a first-of-its-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 a certification letter 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 to develop the schedule and estimated costs of the decommissioning.
- 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 the cessation of operations and permanent removal of the fuel from the reactor vessel letter. 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.
- Jan. 26, 2015: Received an NRC exemption allowing Duke Energy to seek reimbursement from the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund and allocate decommissioning activities to three categories: spent fuel management, license termination and site restoration. Florida customers paid into the trust fund between 1977 and 2001. This exemption was submitted to the NRC in March 2014.
- March 30 – 31, 2015: Received approval from the NRC to adjust CR3’s emergency plan to a level more appropriate for the lower risk presented by the plant’s decommissioning status. The NRC’s approval means the used nuclear fuel assemblies stored on site since 1978 present minimal risk to the public. No radiological event at the plant will extend beyond the site boundary, affect the general public or require pre-planned assistance from county and state agencies. Also, the 10-mile emergency planning zone and off-site facilities will no longer be needed. This license amendment request was submitted to the NRC in September 2013.
- July 1, 2015: Implemented an in-house SAFSTOR I organization to safely and cost-effectively achieve dormancy with dry fuel storage by February 2018.
- Sept. 4, 2015: Received approval from the NRC to revise CR3’s technical specifications and the license to reflect the decommissioning status of the plant. This allowed CR3 to reduce the scope of its NRC license by eliminating or modifying criteria only applicable to operating plants. The license amendment request was submitted to the NRC in October 2013.
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 with 95 percent confidence that the re-tensioning sequence would be successful. However, during the final stages of re-tensioning, engineers discovered 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.
Used Nuclear Fuel Assemblies and Dry Cask Storage
In 2014, the Duke Energy board of directors approved plans to build a dry cask storage facility at CR3 to store the plant’s used nuclear fuel assemblies. In August 2015, construction started, including mobilizing crews, removing the top layer of loose soil and leveling the foundation to ultimately provide a solid platform for the dry cask storage facility. Crews are expected to complete construction by 2017 with all used nuclear fuel assemblies transferred from the fuel pool into dry casks by February 2018. CR3 has safely stored its used nuclear fuel assemblies on site since its first refueling in 1978.
Constructing and using a dry cask storage system for used nuclear fuel assemblies is a safe and proven technology approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). All U.S. nuclear plants store their used nuclear fuel assemblies in fuel pools or in dry casks because the U.S. does not have a federal repository for used nuclear fuel assemblies.
Before any fuel assembly is loaded into the canisters, workers are required to demonstrate to the NRC their readiness and ability to safely and properly handle the used nuclear fuel assemblies. A dry run of the entire loading process will be conducted, including canister preparation, fuel loading, welding activities (on the top steel plate) and transferring the canister into a concrete module.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a dry cask storage facility?
Why are you building a dry cask storage facility?
How much will the project cost, and will you raise customer rates to pay for it?
What is the timeline of the project?
Will current employees work on the dry cask storage project?
What is the NRC’s involvement in the process?
Who is the dry cask contractor, and what technology of cask will be used?
Is this system used at any of Duke Energy’s other nuclear plants?
Focus on Employees
When Duke Energy announced the decision to retire CR3, the company remained committed to helping employees through the transition, retaining nuclear talent and redeploying as many employees as possible to other positions within the company.
To help employees through the transition, HR representatives met with employees one-on-one to understand their career preferences. HR representatives asked employees whether they wanted to stay on site to fill a temporary position on the decommissioning team, to redeploy to another position within the company or to leave the company with severance benefits. In most cases, the company was able to fulfill employee preferences.
Duke Energy 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.
Duke Energy successfully placed about 400 of the 600 employees impacted by the decision to retire the plant. More than 300 employees have redeployed to other positions within Duke Energy, and about 70 employees remain on site as part of the SAFSTOR I organization, not including security officers or contractors. The majority of employees who left the company either retired or accepted a position with another company.
These employee numbers will remain stable until the dry cask storage facility is completed in 2018.
The Crystal River Energy Complex (CREC), which includes the Crystal River Nuclear Plant 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.
Duke Energy remains committed to the area as evidenced by the company's 2014 announcement to build a 1,640 megawatt clean-burning combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County starting in early 2016.
Workers also support various local agencies with financial contributions and volunteerism. Some examples include:
Holiday Hope program
For decades, employees and contractors at the Crystal River Energy Complex have been filling children’s holiday wish lists as part of the complex’s Holiday Hope program in partnership with the Citrus County Family Resource Center in Hernando. In 2015, workers, with significant contributions from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 433, spread holiday cheer to more than 150 Citrus County children. Each child received 10 gifts to open on Christmas day; that’s about $20,000 and $30,000 in gifts. In 2015, workers also donated 55 bikes with helmets. Workers either used their own money or participated in various fundraisers. For example, the IBEW held a golf tournament and raised $8,000 for the program.
Restocking local food pantries
During this Duke Energy In Action event, employees flexed some muscle and unloaded 23,000 pounds of food to restock shelves for Citrus County Harvest, a nonprofit organization that provides food to 1,250 local public school children every week and during school breaks.
In September 2015, employees logged 46 person-hours picking up trash and other debris littering the banks of a Gulf of Mexico canal near the Crystal River Energy Complex. The Duke Energy In Action volunteer event was part of Duke Energy’s ongoing focus on environmental stewardship and Citrus County’s 26th Annual Lakes, Rivers and Coastal Cleanup Save Our Waters campaign. Some of the most unusual finds included a life vest, vinyl boat seat, 40 watt light bulb and about six dozen fishing buoys. Most items were common household trash, such as 152 plastic beverage bottles, 88 beverage cans, 83 glass bottles and 42 grocery bags.
United Way of Citrus County campaign
Every year, the Crystal River Energy Complex hosts grassroots fundraisers to benefit the United Way of Citrus County. The 2015 campaign included 10 events, including an ice cream social, bake sale, cornhole tournament, pizza party and auction, among other activities. The 2015 campaign raised $6,058 for the United Way of Citrus County. This amount does not include payroll contributions.
Kings Bay cleanup
As part of a Duke Energy In Action volunteer event in 2015, more than 100 Duke Energy Florida employees from various work sites across Florida logged about 600 person-hours and removed 17 tons of Lyngbya algae from Kings Bay, setting a new record for the amount raked in one day. During the event, volunteers also presented the One Rake at a Time community initiative a $10,000 check on behalf of the Duke Energy Foundation.
Helping children thrive
More than a dozen Crystal River Nuclear Plant employees volunteered their time and talent to enhance the therapeutic environment at Child’s Play Foundation, Inc. (Isaiah’s Place) in Yankeetown. The team replaced the shingles on a gazebo, rebuilt a fence, painted several areas and performed lawn maintenance. The Foundation – staffed with licensed mental health therapists – offers family-friendly therapeutic intervention for children who have experienced trauma or behavior difficulties by providing play and other expressive therapies that help children process their thoughts and feelings.
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?
What is the timeline for the decommissioning?
The 60 year timeline allows radioactivity to decay naturally over time, providing a safer work environment for employees involved in the decontamination and dismantlement process and reducing cleaning and shipping costs. The timeline also allows the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund to continue to grow and the Department of Energy to develop its long-term used fuel storage strategy for the United States.
How much will the decommissioning cost?
Will you raise customer rates to pay for the decommissioning?
Keeping our customers and plant neighbors informed of our decommissioning plans is important to us. To ask a question or share your feedback, please complete this form. A member of our decommissioning team will get back to you as soon as possible.