EnergySolutions and JAPC team up on decommissioning

21 April 2016

A cooperation agreement has been signed between EnergySolutions and Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) through which the US nuclear commercial services company will share its know-how in decommissioning light water nuclear power plants with JAPC.  

As part of the agreement signed yesterday, EnergySolutions will share its decommissioning and decontamination experience and capabilities with JAPC for use in the decommissioning of unit 1 of its Tsuruga nuclear power plant.

JAPC announced in March 2015 that Tsuruga 1 - a 341 MWe boiling water reactor that started up in 1970 and is one of Japan's oldest nuclear reactors - would be decommissioned. It noted that while it would have been technically feasible to bring Tsuruga 1 up to the standards required, the size of the project and the degree of capital investment required underpinned the decommissioning decision.

EnergySolutions began the ten-year process of dismantling the Zion plant in Illinois in September 2010. EnergySolutions will eventually move away parts of the plant to its property in Utah. The two pressurized water reactors at Zion were shut down in January 1998 after Commonwealth Edison, owner of the plant at the time, concluded that the continued operation of Zion Station was not financially feasible and the plant was removed from service.

EnergySolutions said to ensure the successful implementation of its new agreement with JAPC, staff from the Japanese company will participate in the decommissioning work being carried out at Zion. Subsequently, employees of EnergySolutions will join JAPC's project team in Japan for the decommissioning of Tsuruga 1 "to support effective knowledge transfer and implementation of the EnergySolutions decommissioning and decontamination experience".

Ken Robuck, president of EnergySolutions' disposal and decommissioning business, said: "This is a tremendous opportunity for our company to provide our decommissioning and decontamination experience and capabilities in Japan. Our primary goal is to support the Japanese nuclear industry in achieving safe and efficient decommissioning projects."

JAPC submitted its decommissioning plan for Tsuruga 1 to the country's nuclear regulator for approval in February this year. The company said it expects to take 24 years to decommission the unit. The decommissioning is to be carried out in three stages: the first stage, lasting about nine years, will involve preparing the reactor for dismantling (including the removal of all fuel), while the second, also lasting nine years will be to actually dismantle the reactor and other major equipment. The third stage, taking about six years, will involve the demolition of the reactor building.

JAPC said it anticipates a total of some 20,600 tonnes of solid waste to be generated during the decommissioning of Tsuruga 1. This will include about 40 tonnes of high-level waste, 1990 tonnes of intermediate-level waste and 10,760 tonnes of low-level waste. The remaining waste will not need to be treated as radioactive waste.

JAPC has been decommissioning Tokai unit 1 since December 2001. The 166 MWe gas-cooled reactor - which operated between 1966 and 1998 - was Japan's first commercial power reactor.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News