The NRC Keeps Watch Over Comanche Peak During Chapter 11 Proceedings

Lara Uselding
Region IV Public Affairs Officer
 

The owner/operator of the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant — Luminant Generation Company LLC – told us that its parent company, Energy Future Holdings (EFH), has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Chapter 11 provides time for a business to sort out its financial problems.

cpThis is not the first time an action like this has involved a nuclear plant. The owner of the Diablo Canyon plant went through a bankruptcy in 2001, and, in the 1980s, the Seabrook plant went through a similar process.

The NRC has been actively monitoring the situation since EFH told the Securities and Exchange Commission last year it may have difficulties meeting debt obligations. NRC staff has looked at any potential impacts on plant safety and security, the decommissioning fund, and the implementation of post-Fukushima action items. We determined the plant continues to be sufficiently funded.

Based on NRC management visits to the Texas plant and monthly calls and meetings with company executives at the NRC Region IV office, the NRC has been assured EFH’s financial issues will not have a negative impact on the safe operation of the plant.

Staff from NRC’s regional office in Arlington, Texas, will continue to conduct inspections and assessments to ensure public health and safety is maintained. They will also evaluate whether the financial conditions are impacting plant staffing, maintenance activities and emergency preparedness capabilities.

Moving forward, the NRC has reminded the company  it must continue to meet requirements of its license. For example, EFH/Luminant must have a financial support agreement of $250 million to ensure operating and maintenance costs for the two reactors can be met for a year. And EFH and Luminant must inform the NRC prior to transferring significant funds — greater than 10 percent of total accounts — away from Luminant.  Once a new corporate entity is established the firm must notify the NRC to begin the license transfer process.

The plant is in compliance with our decommissioning funding assurance requirements, and the NRC will work with the bankruptcy authorities to ensure decommissioning funds are insulated from creditor claims.

Two NRC resident inspectors live in the local community and work at the plant. They are the agency’s eyes and ears at the plant and their daily oversight helps to ensure the plant continues to be operated safely, and protects public health and the environment.

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

22 thoughts on “The NRC Keeps Watch Over Comanche Peak During Chapter 11 Proceedings”

  1. Decommissioning costs that have been collected from ratepayers while a NPP is in operation, are really a big piggy bank, that the operators get to access to for many decades after milking the NPP for all they are worth…

  2. It is not surprising that engineers have created easier way to generate nuclear waste. All the while, there is nothing new in waste treatment. The NRC oversees a dangerous industry whose major products are radioactive waste, disease, and cancer. How is the NRC managing the Gross Nuclear Product? They pretend it does not exist!

  3. Stock – I agree and those cost are just estimates if everything goes as planned, we know we do not live in a perfect world despite what Utilities say…

    We all will track San Onofre decommissioning and I bet it takes far longer and cost far more than estimated, especially since it used high burn-up fuel.

  4. No comments have been “moderated out” of this discussion. If you submitted a comment that has not appeared, please resubmit it.

    Moderator

  5. @Bill: thanks, I posted another link that was apparently moderated out that showed that same range of cost on Yankee.

  6. Bill: I know, however, that cleanup is 117B US Dollars. So to think that a nuclear reactor site might take 1B USD to cleanup is well within reasonable thinking.

    Thinking that a US power reactor can be decommisioned for $130M is not realistic thinking

  7. Meant “I heard the NRC is sending mixed messages about foreign ownership”…I just want to make sure the NRC sticks to the law and that there are no attempts to change it…like foreign investment to save these facilities.
    American people deserve protection through federal law, including that our nuclear reactors are controlled by the people most concerned about our country: fellow Americans.”

    “Foreign Ownership, Control or Domination policy is spelled out in the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) of 1954,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office. “In Section 103d it says that no license may be issued to an alien or any corporation or other entity if the Commission knows or has reason to believe it is owned, controlled, or dominated by an alien, a foreign corporation, or a foreign government.”

    Besides the writing is on the wall and I agree with Ralph Nader ~ http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/271-38/19829-atomic-energy-unnecessary-uneconomic-uninsurable-unevacuable-and-unsafe

  8. Stock: Sellafield was primarily a weapons facility. That would be like cleaning up Oak Ridge, Savanna River or Hanford. It is not at all equivalent to a commercial nuclear power plant. The reactors at Sellafield were primarily for weapons grade plutonium production. – Bill Young

  9. This report indicates that Yankee cost $608M for preliminary recomissioning (neglecting outyears costs of protecting and handling spent fuel). I suggest that the NRC immediately force all nuke operators to put $500M into escrow, into an account that they cannot control at all except for rebalancing the portfolio and even that requires conservative guidance.

  10. Foreign ownership does not apply to Comanche Peak because there is not any foreign ownership or other significant foreign involvement among the owners that would need to be addressed. The staff would do a review if the owners changed and the license was transferred.

    Lara Uselding

  11. Good comment!
    SALUTE

    Decommissioning costs that have been collected from ratepayers while a NPP is in operation, are really a big piggy bank, that the operators get to access to for many decades after milking the NPP for all they are worth…

  12. My suggestion to the NRC Chairman, is to do an immediate “surprise” inspection of Comanche Peak nuclear power plant and make sure that some of the inspectors are NOT from Region IV since San Onofre NPP proved that Region IV was a bit too cozy with the operator, Southern California Edison (SCE) of the San Onofre NPP.

    Regarding to the cost to decommission, the NRC would be wise to require every operator of a NPP to provide a quarterly update to the NRC, with a current cost to decommission it, since San Onofre NPP proved that the decommissioning decision can be made by the operator without any discussion with regulators and/or ratepayers.

    Lastly if Comanche Peak is using high burn-up fuel that will require much longer cool down times as compared to non high burn-up fuel and therefore the NRC should require all the NPP’s using high burn-up fuel to have much larger decommissioning funds, especially since using high burn-up fuel is much more stressful on the steam generators and all their related components which makes for more frequent replacements of expensive components.

    Using the decommissioning of San Onofre NPP that has just begun, as a perfect example:

    All the spent fuel will be sitting there for a very long time, think many decades and probably much longer since SCE used High Burn-up Fuel which the NRC does not even have an approved long term storage cask for. It is my opinion that that is why the original steam generators had to be replaced, which started this entire RSG design debacle or said another way, if SCE had not gotten approval to update San Onofre’s reactors they would have still be in use today and ratepayers would have been many billions ahead, since they would not have had to pay for things like these:

    As of now, ratepayers have paid and/or are still paying*:
    – $60 million (PER MONTH) for ongoing expenses and getting zero energy
    – $750 million for the 4 replacement steam generators that were dangerous
    – $300 million for new turbines
    – $200 million for new reactor heads
    – $500 million of decommissioning shortfall, estimated…
    – $1,500 million for 5+ decades of nuclear waste on-site storage costs
    – $3,500 million for additional energy costs

    *NOTE: This is only a partial listing and I believe it is on the LOW side…
    ===> One good thing is that San Onofre is now not creating any additional nuclear waste that future generations will have to deal with!

  13. It is not surprising that engineers have created easier way to generate nuclear waste. All the while, there is nothing new in waste treatment. The NRC oversees a dangerous industry whose major products are radioactive waste, disease, and cancer. How is the NRC managing the Gross Nuclear Product? They pretend it does not exist!

  14. $105M to $130M is clearly VASTLY underfunded for decomissioning. And the out years costs of nuke is one of the lies that needs to be maintained lest it become brutally obvious that nuclear makes no financial sense. True decommissioning and casking (casking should be done ASAP) is going to show between $500M and $1000B.

    Cost overruns and delays are standard operating procedures. in the UK at Sellafield they now think it will cost 70B Pounds to clean up. roughly $117B USD.

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