Quick decommissioning in Germany

Two of the German reactors ordered to shut after Fukushima will be dismantled as soon as possible. EnBW has applied for permission to do the work and said it has more than enough funds set aside.

Neckarwestheim 1 and Philippsburg 1 were both among the older reactor units that Chancellor Angela Merkel forced to close early in the week of the Fukushima accident in March 2011. Built in 1976 and 1981 respectively, their operation had been set to continue until 2017 and 2026. Merkel’s move, however, brought their power generation careers to an abrupt end.

Normal practice in nuclear decommissioning allows time for radioactive decay before the main components and buildings are tackled. Sometimes a reactor building is sealed up and put in a ‘safe storage’ mode to allow radioactive decay to the point that the work can take place under normal industrial regulation rather than nuclear regulation. This kind of postponement makes the work easier and cheaper to carry out while also allowing more time for decommissioning funds to grow.

Instead of following this strategy, EnBW has opted to complete the work as soon as possible. “We are taking note of our responsibility and not putting off the issue of decommissioning work any longer,” said Jorg Michels of EnKK, the company that operates the plants for EnBW. “With direct decommissioning we are achieving clarity for the public, employees and our business partners.”

Courtesy of WNN