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Life cycle of any reactor consists of design, construction, operation and decommissioning stages. After the design life is over, reactor should be transformed into nuclear safety condition and decommissioned. Termination of operation can be caused by other reasons including economic, operational, technological ones and because of the accidents.
Decommissioning – a set of measures after the process of nuclear fuel removal and operation termination of installation that makes it impossible to use for the purposes for which it was constructed and provides safety of personnel, population and environment.
Termination of operation – the final stage of installation operation that is performed after the making a decision about its decommissioning and in the course of which this facility is brought to the state when nuclear fuel is absent at its territory or being within this territory, is located in spent fuel storages (SFS) that are intended for a long-term safe storage.
Reactors closed following an accident or serious incident
Partial core melt
Fukushima Daiichi 1
from cooling loss
Fukushima Daiichi 2
from cooling loss
Fukushima Daiichi 3
from cooling loss
Fukushima Daiichi 4
from fuelling error
Fire and meltdown
Three Mile Island 2
Partial core melt
Reactors closed prematurely by political decision
MWe net each
Years operating each
10, 12, 15, 16
Process of installation decommissioning is divided into the following stages:
Final shutdown – the stage of the process of installation decommissioning when it is brought to the state that includes the possibility to use the installation for the purposes for which it was constructed.
Mothballing – a stage of the process of installation decommissioning when it is brought to the state that corresponds to the safe storage of ionizing radiation sources during the certain period of time.
Hold-up – stage of the process of installation decommissioning during which it is in the quiescent mode that corresponds to the safe storage of ionizing radiation sources that are in it.
Dismantling – stage of the process of facility installation decommissioning when ionizing radiation sources that are in this installation, are removed from the facility or are located at its territory in radwaste storages.
The decommissioning activity is subjected to government regulation and is performed on the basis of certain permissions. The stage of operation termination precedes the stage of the decommissioning. Activity at the stage of operation termination is performed within the installation operation license, although the implementation of this stage requires separate permission of regulatory body. To gain such permission operating organization has to present following documents:
Installation operation termination program;
Report on safety analysis;
Changes in technical regulation of facility operation.
Pursuant to the requirements of national standards of Ukraine it is necessary to elaborate the concept of nuclear facility decommissioning at the stage of its designing. The initial concept of installation decommissioning has to be presented by the operating organization during the process of documents submission in order to obtain the constructing license. The concept of installation decommissioning has to be reconsidered by taking into account the experience of operation conduction and acquisition of new knowledge in outlined issue.
Decommission of installation is performed according to the decommissioning design, approved by regulatory authority, which includes radiation protection programme, radioactive waste (RAW) management programme, quality assurance programme, action plan in case of radiation accident and facility physical protection action plan.
License for installation decommissioning presupposes obtaining of certain permit to implement each stage of facility decommissioning.
Hygiene passport of installation has to be processed by authorities of State Sanitary Control for each stage of installation decommissioning. Hygiene passport has to contain the main sanitary, radiation and radiation dose monitoring characteristics of the installation, which is in the process of decommissioning, that allow to determine the level of radiation safety for personnel, population and environment.
Operating organization presents a report on information about the conducted work on the certain stage to the regulatory authority upon completion of the installation operation termination stage and each stage of installation decommissioning. In the report there has to be included information about radiation and other dangerous impacts on the personnel, population and environment and evidences that facility is brought into the state planned by the design.
According to the IAEA recommendations there are three options of the NPP decommissioning: Safe Enclosure of NPP, Entombment, and Immediate Dismantling.
The option “Safe Enclosure” presupposes a state in which reactor installation and other radioactive systems and equipment are mothballed, isolated from outside environment and maintained in safe state with the following decontamination to the level that allows its unlimited use in the future. During the realization of this option it is possible to perform preparatory works, dismantle, remove the non-polluting and low level equipment with its further disposal and reprocessing, conversion of premises, buildings and constructions, consequent reprocessing of low level RAW, partially decontaminate etc.
During the process of “Entombment” the most dangerous radioactive items, including reactors, primary coolant equipment and others, are enclosed, for example, in concrete, and are cooled till in the result of radionuclide decay the radiation of it will achieve an acceptable level. According to this option it is used the effect of activity self-destruction in the result of radioactive decay. In addition it is possible to carry out works of uncomplete decontamination of premises, dismantling and disposal of equipment that is beyond the leak tight zone, and other types of activity that do not lead to violation of the indicated barriers integrity.
Option “Immediate Dismantling” presupposes the achievement of two possible stages of final state of the reactor installation. The exemption of the site presupposes the dismantling of equipment, buildings and constructions that are not intended for further use, reprocessing and removal of all RAW from the site of reactor installation and bringing the site to the state that is appropriate to the requirements of nuclear power, for instance, for new unit building or RAW storage facility. This state of the site is called as “brown site”.
Turbine shop at Greifswald NPP (Germany) before NPP decommissioning
Turbine shop at Greifswald NPP (Germany) after equipment dismantling
The state of the site as “green site” presupposes the dismantling of reactor facility buildings, reprocessing, packing and removal of the radioactive and nonradioactive waste, recultivation of the exempted territory for its unlimited further use.
Decommissioning of the certain installation is determined by national peculiarities and depends upon technical and economic, political and social and other aspects.
Costs for NPP decommissioning depends upon many factors (in particular such as type and state of the nuclear power facility, problems connected with processing and storage of residual materials, limit norms of the radiation protection, methodology of obtaining the license, costs for personnel, work schedule), including such items as capacity of the unit, its operating life, and time before the final shutdown.
According to rough estimates total costs for one nuclear power unit decommissioning and dismantling can amount from 20% to 30% of costs necessary for new unit building. National peculiarities, including volume of necessary works and method of RAW management, have a significant impact on costs. Total costs depend upon the quantity of RAW, methods of their reprocessing etc.
Costs for NPP decommissioning
Type of reactor, capacity,
Big Rock Point, USA
Reactor vessel is removed after the offloading of spent nuclear fuel. Total mass of RAW was 290 t. Spent nuclear fuel storage with area 43,3 hectares remained at the site. Area of NPP was 182,2 hectares.
Fort Saint Vrain, USA
Variant of immediate dismantling. It was converted into gas-turbine station.
Dismantling began in 2001 and it will have been accomplished in 2017. In the process of dismantling it will be created 177000 t of RAW, including 18000 t of highly radioactive ones.
The first NPP that is decommissioned after the adoption of the law on nuclear phase out. Fuel will be sent to France for reprocessing. 150 people of personnel out of 300 have remained at dismantling works.
Costs for total unit dismantling
Costs for total unit dismantling
Decommissioning of nuclear power installations” / А.Nosovskiy,V.Vasilchenko, A.Klyuchnikov, O.Yashchenko; Edited by A.Nosovskiy. – K.: Tekhnika, 2005. –P.27-39.
Nuclear and Radiation Safety in Ukraine Annual Report 2010.
О.Э.Муратов, М.Н.Тихонов. Снятие АЭС с эксплуатации: проблемы и пути решения // Агенство ПроАтом.