Friday, August 30, 2013

Radioactive Fact: Cost To Decommission Three Mile Island Nukes Hits $950 Million But No Place To Take Waste

Why are nuclear plants so expensive? Mainly it's the cost of building one, with a recently cancelled Florida nuke plant exceeding $20 billion. Yet, once a nuke plant stops operating and must be decommissioned, another huge bill comes due.  How big?

In the case of Three Mile Island, current estimates are $950 million for just decommissioning the plant.

That $950 million decommissioning bill is enough money to build a 1,000 megawatt natural gas plant or a 500 megawatt wind farm.  It is a huge amount of money all by itself.

Yet, it is just a small part of the total costs of building, running, and decommissioning a nuclear plant.


  1. And you summarize the problem with development of all types, energy included: externalized cost, with privatized profits. We must get better at quantifying and assessing costs of any for-profit venture.

  2. John, you failed to mention that the plant owner is required to establish a decommissioning fund into which money is deposited each year of operation.
    Also, there is a place (or places) to dispose of most of the decommissioning waste, it is only the high level waste that is an issue. By the way, waste disposal is not a technical issue, it is a political issue.

    1. Good points. Ratepayers have been paying into that fund for years. Shareholders have not. The political will problem on a waste site has proven so far insurmontable. I am now thinking that the waste will remain on site for many, many decades. Perhaps forever. I hope I am wrong.

  3. I would extend your point to municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives that operate generation plants. These non-profits operate nukes, coal, gas, oil--all types of plants. They too are externalizing costs.