Crystal River Nuclear Plant

Exterior shot of Crystal River

Overview

Accelerated decommissioning

In May 2019, Duke Energy announced a plan to decommission the Crystal River Nuclear Plant by 2027 instead of 2074 and to contract with Accelerated Decommissioning Partners, a joint venture between NorthStar Group Services and Orano USA, to perform the work.  

Decommissioning a nuclear plant is highly regulated and involves removing, packaging and shipping radioactive materials, such as the reactor vessel, to a licensed facility and then demolishing buildings. 

Twenty-four-hour security, emergency response and radiological and environmental monitoring programs continue during and after decommissioning.  

The plan is subject to approval by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Florida Public Service Commission. 

If approved, decommissioning work will start in 2020 – nearly 50 years sooner than originally planned.

Benefits and protections 

If regulators approve the plan, the fixed-price contract will lock in today's prices, providing greater cost certainty. The contract structure will also provide financial protection and transfer project execution risks to Accelerated Decommissioning Partners, including potential cost overruns and unknown conditions.  

In addition, accelerating the decommissioning allows for faster restoration and redevelopment of the nuclear plant property for Duke Energy's reuse one day. The company has not yet determined how it might repurpose the property but has no plans to sell it.  

The plan also gives Duke Energy a potential opportunity to return the majority of unused trust fund dollars back to customers more than three decades faster than the current 60-year decommissioning model.

Why now?

Duke Energy is pursuing accelerated decommissioning for two reasons. 

First, the trust fund that pays for the decommissioning is currently sufficient to accelerate the plant's decommissioning without increasing customer bills. 

Second, Duke Energy has cost-effectively completed the initial phase of decommissioning, placing the plant in an ideal condition to attract bidders to complete the work. 

This progress, coupled with increased competition in the industry, has lowered decommissioning costs, making the accelerated model financially feasible.  

Contract terms

If regulators approve the transaction, Duke Energy will remain the Nuclear Regulatory Commission-licensed owner of the nuclear plant, property and equipment and retain ownership and control of the trust fund that pays for the decommissioning. 

In turn, Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will become the Nuclear Regulatory Commission-licensed operator responsible for decommissioning the plant in compliance with all state and federal regulations.

Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will also own the dry cask storage system assets, including the used nuclear fuel assemblies, and operate and maintain the dry cask storage facility.  

A dry cask storage facility is self-contained and stores used nuclear fuel assemblies in steel canisters housed in large concrete structures without power supplies, cooling water, pumps or motors. The system is safe and licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

Owning the dry cask storage system assets closely aligns with Accelerated Decommissioning Partners' business strategy, and selling these assets allows Duke Energy to transfer all aspects of used fuel management, including operating and maintenance costs.

Duke Energy is comfortable selling the dry cask storage system assets because all owners of nuclear plants follow the same regulations. Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will be required to implement Nuclear Regulatory Commission license requirements in the same way Duke Energy implements these requirements.

Decommissioning decision 

On Feb. 5, 2013, Duke Energy announced its decision to retire the nuclear plant instead of pursuing 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 concrete separations were discovered in two different areas of the containment building in 2011.

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 showed that the separations of concrete could not have been predicted.

Plant history

The Crystal River Nuclear Plant, known as CR3, operated from 1977 to 2009. The plant produced about 860 megawatts of clean energy, helping to serve millions of Floridians.

The nuclear plant is located at the 5,100-acre Crystal River Energy Complex, home to the new Citrus Combined Cycle Station, two operating coal-fired units, two retired coal-fired units and a mariculture center that cultivates and then releases fish into the Gulf of Mexico.

Timeline

  • Feb. 20, 2013: Filed a certification letter with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 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 to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires decommissioning nuclear plants to submit this report within two years of filing the cessation of operations and permanent removal of the fuel from the reactor vessel letter. The report 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 report also references the plant’s fuel management plan.
       2013 Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report
       2013 Site-Specific Decommissioning Cost Estimate

  • Jan. 26, 2015: Received a Nuclear Regulatory Commission 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 Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March 2014. 
  • March 30–31, 2015: Received approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to adjust the plant’s emergency plan to a level more appropriate for the lower risk presented by the plant’s decommissioning status. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’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 are no longer needed. This license amendment request was submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in September 2013. 
  • July 1, 2015: Implemented an in-house SAFSTOR I organization to safely and cost-effectively transfer all used nuclear fuel assemblies from the fuel pool into dry casks by early 2018 and achieve dry dormancy in 2019. 
  • Sept. 4, 2015: Received approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to revise the technical specifications and license to reflect the decommissioning status of the plant. This eliminated or modified criteria only applicable to operating plants. The license amendment request was submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in October 2013.
  • Dec. 5, 2016: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the required emergency plan needed to support moving used nuclear fuel assemblies from the fuel pool into the dry cask storage facility. The emergency plan was submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in August 2015.
  • March 22, 2017: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the required emergency plan needed to support the dry cask storage facility when all used nuclear fuel assemblies have been moved from the fuel pool into the dry cask storage facility in early 2018. The emergency plan was submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in May 2016.
  • June 27, 2017: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued technical specifications for the plant when all used nuclear fuel assemblies have been moved from the fuel pool into the dry cask storage facility in early 2018. This removes many of the license conditions and all fuel-related technical specifications. This license amendment request was submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in August 2016.
  • Jan. 15, 2018: Duke Energy notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the used fuel pool at the decommissioning Crystal River Nuclear Plant has no fuel in it for the first time in 40 years. In January 2018, crews finished loading the last dry shielded canister filled with used nuclear fuel assemblies into its horizontal storage module – marking the end of a 41-month project.
  • Feb. 14, 2018: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the security plan that aligns requirements with the plant's status as a dry cask storage facility. This allows the decommissioning team to reduce costs to help ensure continued sufficiency of the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund. This license amendment request was initially submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in May 2016.
  • June 27, 2018: Submitted an updated decommissioning cost estimate to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The 2013 decommissioning cost estimate projected the cost to be $1.18 billion in 2013 dollars, and the 2018 cost estimate projects the cost to be $895.9 million in 2017 dollars. The difference is mostly due to actual costs incurred. The actual cost of the nuclear plant's decommissioning during the first five years is consistent with the 2013 cost estimate. Costs have been about 10 percent lower than anticipated.

    2017 Updated Site-Specific Decommissioning Cost Estimate

  • Jan. 22, 2019: Duke Energy requested the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reduce the nuclear plant’s licensed land area from about 4,700 acres to 900 acres. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a public meeting on this topic on April 25, 2019, and a decision is pending. 

History of 2009 and 2011 containment building concrete separations

  • October 2009: The first delamination, or separation of concrete, within the plant’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 shut down 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 showed the separation of concrete could not have been predicted. The root-cause analysis concluded a redistribution of stresses on the containment wall caused the separation of concrete following the containment opening activities. These activities created additional stress beyond the original containment design. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s inspection confirmed these findings.
  • March 2011: After the first concrete separation was successfully repaired, the company performed a year-long, first-of-its-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 the re-tensioning sequence would be successful. However, during the final stages of re-tensioning, engineers discovered another concrete separation in a different area of the containment structure 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 a third concrete separation in another area of the containment structure. No work activities were occurring on the building at the time. 
  • Following the 2011 concrete separations: 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. Company and 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. An independent review commissioned in 2012 confirmed repairing the containment building was technically feasible but included significant risks that could raise the cost of the repair and extend the schedule significantly. Therefore, Duke Energy determined that retiring the plant was in the best interests of customers and shareholders.

Dry Cask Storage Facility

Dry Cask Storage Buildings at Crystal River

All used nuclear fuel assemblies needed to produce energy for more than 30 years resides in an on-site dry cask storage facility, called an independent spent fuel storage installation.

A dry cask storage facility is self-contained and stores used nuclear fuel assemblies in steel canisters housed in large concrete structures without power supplies, cooling water, pumps or motors. The system is safe and licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 


Crews completed moving the used nuclear fuel assemblies from the fuel pool to the dry cask storage facility in January 2018, and the project created about 350 jobs during its height.  

Duke Energy would have needed to build the dry cask storage facility regardless of the decision to retire the plant because the plant's fuel pool had nearly reached capacity.

Focus on Employees


CR3 employees

When Duke Energy announced the decision to retire the nuclear plant, the company remained committed to helping employees through the transition, retaining nuclear talent and placing as many employees as possible in other positions within the company.

Human resources 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 be placed in another position within the company or to leave the company with severance benefits. In most cases, the company was able to fulfill employees' 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.

Current status

Duke Energy successfully placed about 400 of the 600 employees impacted by the decision to retire the plant. More than 300 employees were placed in other positions within Duke Energy, and about 100 employees are part of the SAFSTOR I organization, not including contractors. The majority of employees who left the company either retired or accepted a position with another company. 

If regulators approve the accelerated decommissioning plan, Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will be responsible for decommissioning the plant and operating and maintaining the on-site dry cask storage facility. 

That means work for Duke Energy's Crystal River Nuclear Plant employees will end in 2020. 

Duke Energy has a proven record of successfully placing employees in other positions. These employees will be able to apply for other positions within Duke Energy or leave the company with severance benefits to retire or pursue external opportunities.


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Frequently Asked Questions

  • The decommissioning process is highly regulated and involves removing, packaging and shipping radioactive materials, such as the reactor vessel, to a licensed facility and then demolishing buildings. 

    Twenty-four-hour security, emergency response and radiological and environmental monitoring programs continue during and after decommissioning.  

  • All U.S. nuclear plants either choose the SAFSTOR (safe storage) or DECON (immediate or accelerated) decommissioning strategy, as allowed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.     

    In 2013, Duke Energy chose the 60-year SAFSTOR model and reached its SAFSTOR condition in 2015. 

    With SAFSTOR, a nuclear 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 no longer needed are drained, de-energized and secured. 

    With the DECON model, equipment, components and facilities containing radioactive materials are removed and decontaminated to a level that ultimately permits the termination of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission license and release of the property for unrestricted use (after the used nuclear fuel assemblies are moved to an interim or federal repository). Buildings are also demolished.

  • Duke Energy is pursuing accelerated decommissioning for two reasons. 

    First, the trust fund that pays for the decommissioning, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirement, is currently sufficient to accelerate the plant's decommissioning without increasing customer bills. 

    Accelerating the nuclear plant's decommissioning also gives Duke Energy a potential opportunity to return the majority of unused trust fund dollars back to customers more than three decades faster than the current 60-year decommissioning model.  

    Second, Duke Energy has cost-effectively completed the initial phase of decommissioning, placing the plant in an ideal condition to attract bidders to complete the work. 

    This progress, coupled with increased competition in the industry, has lowered decommissioning costs, making the accelerated model financially feasible. 

  • No, the trust fund that pays for the decommissioning, a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirement, is sufficient to pay for the plant's decommissioning without increasing customer bills. 

  • Duke Energy has signed a contract with Accelerated Decommissioning Partners. If regulators approve the plan, decommissioning work is expected to start in 2020. 

    Accelerated Decommissioning Partners is a joint venture formed in 2017 between NorthStar Group Services and Orano USA (formerly AREVA Inc.) that has decommissioned more than 10 Nuclear Regulatory Commission-licensed nuclear reactor and laboratory sites in the U.S. 

  • If regulators approve the plan, the fixed-price contract will lock in today's prices, providing greater cost certainty. The contract structure will also provide financial protection and transfer project execution risks to Accelerated Decommissioning Partners, including potential cost overruns and unknown conditions.  

    In addition, accelerating the decommissioning allows for faster restoration and redevelopment of the nuclear plant property for Duke Energy's reuse one day. The company has not yet determined how it might repurpose the property but has no plans to sell it.  

    The plan also gives Duke Energy a potential opportunity to return the majority of unused trust fund dollars back to customers more than three decades faster than the current 60-year decommissioning model.  

  • Duke Energy's plan to accelerate the nuclear plant's decommissioning is subject to approval by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Florida Public Service Commission. 

    In June, Duke Energy will form a management team to oversee the contract implementation process.

    If regulators approve the plan, decommissioning work will begin in 2020 and end in 2027 – nearly 50 years sooner than originally planned. Duke Energy originally planned to complete the plant's decommissioning in 2074.

  • If regulators approve the plan, Duke Energy will remain the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission-licensed owner of the nuclear plant, property and equipment and retain ownership and control of the trust fund that pays for the decommissioning. 

    In turn, Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will become the Nuclear Regulatory Commission-licensed operator responsible for decommissioning the plant in compliance with all state and federal regulations.

    Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will also own the dry cask storage system assets, including the used nuclear fuel assemblies, and operate and maintain the dry cask storage facility.  

    A dry cask storage facility is self-contained and stores used nuclear fuel assemblies in steel canisters housed in large concrete structures without power supplies, cooling water, pumps or motors. The system is safe and licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

  • If the transaction closes in 2020, Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will be responsible for decommissioning the plant and operating and maintaining the on-site dry cask storage facility. 

    That means work for Duke Energy's Crystal River Nuclear Plant employees will come to an end after the transaction closes. 

    Duke Energy has a proven record of successfully placing employees in other positions. These employees will be able to apply for other positions within Duke Energy or leave the company with severance benefits to retire or pursue external opportunities.

  • Duke Energy announced the decision to retire the nuclear plant on Feb. 5, 2013, rather than pursue a first-of-its-kind repair to the plant's containment building. 

    While replacing two 500-ton steam generators during a scheduled maintenance outage in 2009, engineers discovered a separation of concrete within the containment building that surrounds the reactor vessel. 

    Though crews successfully repaired the concrete, they discovered additional damage in two other areas of the containment building when working to return the unit to service in 2011. 

    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 showed that the concrete separations could not have been predicted.

Contacting Duke Energy

Maintaining this decommissioning webpage is part of Duke Energy’s stakeholder engagement plan for the Crystal River Plant. If you have questions about the nuclear plant’s decommissioning, please click on the “Contact Us” button below. However, if you have other questions about Duke Energy, please contact customer service


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