Technology, Safety and Costs of Decommissioning Reference Nuclear Research and Test Reactors – Sensitivity of Decommissioning Radiation Exposure and Costs to Selected Parameters (NUREG/CR-1756, Addendum)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: July 1983
Date Published: July 1983

Prepared by:
G. J. Konzek

Pacific Northwest Laboratory
Operated by Battelle Memorial Institute
Richland, WA 99352

Prepared for
Division of Engineering Technology
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, D. C. 20555

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Additional analyses of decommissioning at thereference research and test (R&T) reactors and analyses of five recent reactor decommissionings are made that examine some parameters not covered in the initial study report (NUREG/CR-1756). The parameters examined for decommissioning are: 1) the effect on costs and radiation exposure of plant size and/or type; 2) the effects on costs of increasing disposal charges and of unavailability of wastedisposal capacity at licensed waste disposal facilities; and 3) the costs of and the available alternatives for the disposal of nuclear R&T reactor fuel assemblies.

The volumes of radwaste and the total decommissioning costs from the five recent research reactor decommissioning projects are seen to exhibit some correlation with overall reactor power rating for that class of facility. However, until more data are available from decommissioning of specific reactor types, it will be difficult to establish the effect of reactor type on costs or to correlate radiation dose with reactor facility size and/or type with any degree of confidence.

The effect on decommissioning costs of increasing disposal charges at waste disposal facilities is examined. In the case of the reference test reactor conceptually decommissioned in NUREG/CR-1756, it is concluded that a doubling of the burial ground charges would result in an increase of about 13% in the overall cost of DECON. In addition, the effect on decommissioning of interim inability to dispose of radwastes offsite for the reference R&T reactors is examined. In each case, if offsite waste disposal were not available, the technology, safety, and costs of decommissioning would be altered, most likely resulting in selection of a different preferred alternative for completing the decommissioning.

The impact on decommissioning costs of disposing of R&T reactor fuel hinges on whether the fuel is privately owned or is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Licensees who own their own fuel must bear all costs associated with fuel disposal, including cask rental and shipment of fuel. At those universities where DOE retains ownership of the fuel, the universities can frequently borrow DOE-owned casks free of charge to transport this fuel after irradiation; however, they still must pay for the shipment of the fuel.

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