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When reactors reach old age: Can an obsolete nuclear power plant site he safely and economically restored to its original environmental condition?

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It is pointed out that while the battle over whether to build new plants has quietened in recent times, a second struggle is shaping up in the United States as reactors approach a new stage of life: retirement. Four decades into the nuclear power age, questions of how best to dismantle and dispose of a nuclear power plant remain largely unanswered. Engineers have three choices in dealing with a retired plant: dismantle it immediately; put it on hold to let some of the radioactive materials decay and dismantle it later; or lock it up for 100 years or more and declare it off bounds to the public. The decommissioning of the Shippingport Atomic Power Station is discussed as an example. The problems of waste disposal and land reclamation are also considered.

Published in:

Spectrum, IEEE  (Volume:23 ,  Issue: 2 )