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Nuclear Power Plant

Nuclear decommissioning is the administrative and technical process whereby a nuclear facility such as a nuclear power plant (NPP), a research reactor, an isotope production plant, a particle accelerator, or uranium mine is dismantled to the point that it no longer requires measures for radiation protection. The progressive demolition of buildings and removal of radioactive material is potentially occupationally hazardous, expensive, time-intensive, and presents environmental risks that must be addressed to ensure radioactive materials are either transported elsewhere for storage or stored on-site in a safe manner. Decommissioning may proceed all the way to "greenfield status". Once a facility is decommissioned no radioactive danger persists and it can be released from regulatory control.

List of inactive or decommissioned civil nuclear reactors


A wide range of nuclear facilities have been decommissioned so far. The number of decommissioned nuclear reactors out of the List of nuclear reactors is small. As of 2016, 150 nuclear reactors were shut-off, in several early and intermediate stages (cold shut-down, defueling, SAFSTOR, internal demolition), but only 17 have been taken to fully "greenfield status". Some of these sites still host spent nuclear fuel in the form of dry casks embedded in concrete filled steel drums.

Several nuclear engineering and building demolition companies specialize in nuclear decommissioning, which has become a profitable business. More recently, construction and demolition companies in the UK have also begun to develop nuclear decommissioning services. Due to the radioactivity in the reactor structure (specially with high neutron-flux), decommissioning takes place in stages. Plans for decommissioning reactors have a time frame of decades. The long time frame makes reliable cost estimates difficult and cost overruns are common even for "quick" projects.[citation needed]

As of 2017, most nuclear plants operating in the United States were designed for a life of about 30–40 years and are licensed to operate for 40 years by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The average age of these reactors is 32 years. Many plants are coming to the end of their licensing period and if their licenses are not renewed, they must go through a decontamination and decommissioning process.

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