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Environmental Sustainability Division

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Technical Support for Decommissioning Regulations


The objective of this project was to provide a well-coordinated program of activities that support the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's need for information and analyses related to nuclear facility decommissioning. Major activities included evaluating the technology, safety and costs of decommissioning pressurized water reactor (PWR) and boiling water reactor (BWR) power plants benchmarking analytical results with data available on actual decommissioning projects, developing software to estimate the cost of decommissioning nuclear power plants, and supporting the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the development of regulatory guides related to decommissioning.


Experience and lessons learned obtained during the decommissioning of actual nuclear power plants were reviewed. Based on these data, PNNL staff developed estimates for residual radioactivity, radiation dose rates received by workers during decommissioning operations and schedule and cost for performing decommissioning activities. This information provided the basis for the development of conceptual decommissioning plans for reference nuclear power plants that included assessment of decommissioning alternatives. The methodology used was a bottoms-up approach of defining the basic decommissioning tasks, developing a schedule to complete each task and determining the number and types of labor and other resources needed to execute each task. This methodology, coupled with a plant-specific inventory of components, piping and structures, provided a demonstrable basis for establishing reliable cost and safety estimates having a reasonable degree of confidence.


The results of these analyses yielded decommissioning costs ranging from $130 million to $470 million (constant 1993 dollars) for PWRs, and $160 million to $600 million (constant 1993 dollars) for BWRs, depending on the decommissioning alternative. Similarly, occupational radiation dose ranged from 320 to 950 person-rem for PWRs and 460 to 840 person-rem for BWRs. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission used the results of these analyses to develop requirements and regulations for developing decommissioning plans, establishing decommissioning funds and developing related regulatory guides on decommissioning.

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