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Work begins soon on dismantling Duke Energy’s Crystal River nuclear plant via Tampa Bay Times

The utility’s contractor began the decommissioning process this fall, which will ramp up in 2021.

By Malena Carollo

CRYSTAL RIVER — Decommissioning of Duke Energy Florida’s nuclear plant is finally underway.

Accelerated Decommissioning Partners — Duke Energy’s decommissioning contractor — began its work this fall to dismantle the shuttered nuclear portion of the Crystal River Energy Complex.

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Last June, Duke Energy asked state regulators for permission to speed up decommissioning the plant, which was originally scheduled to be dismantled by 2074. It was approved in late summer.

The nuclear portion of the plant was shut down in 2009 after Duke Energy’s predecessor, Progress Energy Florida, failed at a do-it-yourself repair to the building housing the reactor, cracking its 42-inch-thick concrete walls in the process.

Duke Energy’s push for speedier decommissioning came from a deal the utility struck with Delaware’s Accelerated Decommissioning. Instead of the projected $1.18 billion cost, the company agreed to complete the project for $540 millionand finish by 2027.

Decommissioning costs will will be paid out from the utility’s fund for the process, which was collected from ratepayers from 1977 through 2001. It had $660 million in it as of July. Customer advocates criticized the deal for its lack of protections for customers, who could be on the hook for future charges if Accelerated Decommissioning does not meet its deadlines or budget.

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State expects his team to be active on the site for four or five years to dismantle everything necessary. Most of the radioactive portions of the plant are scheduled to be removed in the first two years of decommissioning and shipped by rail to Texas for storage.

“A nuclear plant that the state that Crystal River is in today isn’t in what I’d consider a nuclear risk,” he said, because there is no nuclear contamination at the site and the fuel has been removed.

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