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NRC approves Crystal River nuclear plant license transfer as part of decommissioning

Photo courtesy NRC.

Duke Energy is transferring its license for a retired Florida nuclear power plant to a decommissioning specialist firm.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency this week announced it had approved the license transfer of Crystal River 3 from Duke Energy Florida to ADP CR3. This move enables active decommissioning for the power plant which has been offline since 2009 but was not officially retired until four years later.

ADP CR3 is a subsidiary of Accelerated Decommissioning Partners LLC, a joint venture of NorthStar Group Services Inc. and Orano Decommissioning Holdings. NorthStar also will be contracted to demolish the nearby and retired coal-fired Crystal River units 1 and 2, according to the NRC report.

Crystal River 3 was an 860-MW pressurized water reactor unit which was originally commissioned in 1977. It operated until 2009, when it was scheduled for a maintenance and refueling outage.

During the outage work, however, crews discovered a large gap in the concrete of the containment vessel wall. Duke, which was not the original owner of Crystal River but acquired it in a merger, opted to try and rebuild it with a project restart date planned for 2011.

The repair project ran into numerous difficulties and although that work was successful other structural problems emerged. Duke opted to permanently retire the plant in 2013.

The utility applied for the license transfer four years later. Under its agreement with ADP CR3, Duke will remain owner of the retired nuclear plant, property and equipment, as well as the trust fund which is paying for the decommissioning.

ADP CR3 becomes the NRC licensee responsible for decommissioning the plant while meeting all state and federal regulations. Decommissioning is expected to be complete by 2027.

Decommissioning includes cleanup of radioactive contaminants and dismantling once the radioactivity has decayed, according to the NRC.