Web Extra: Regulator's Views on the Zion Nuclear Station Decommissioning

March 7, 2008

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Exelon's Zion Nuclear Power Station along the shore of Lake Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Exelon)

The town of Zion rests on the shore of Lake Michigan, just shy of the Wisconsin border. The nuclear power station that bears the town's name hasn't produced nuclear power since an operational mishap in 1997. Exelon officially ended operations in 1998. On March 6 of this year, Exelon invited townspeople to ask questions about a plan to speed up decommissioning of the plant, ten years ahead of schedule and possibly one hundred million dollars cheaper than originally planned. Exelon says it can accomplish this by outsourcing the decommissioning process to a new company run by Utah-based EnergySolutions, which has provided decommissioning services in six states as well as overseas. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission must first rule whether Exelon can temporarily transfer its license to EnergySolutions. The NRC could decide that as early as this year. By Exelon's account, much of the site's 257 acres could eventually be used for other purposes, but spent nuclear fuel would remain at the site until the federal government places it in permanent storage. The federal government has not yet settled where the nation's spent nuclear fuel will reside.

Reporter Shawn Allee interviews John Hickman, a decomissioning project manager with the NRC. Hickman explains how Exelon's use of a separate company for its decommissioning project is novel.




Interviews with:

A Zion Resident
An Exelon Executive
An Environmental Activist
A Zion Town Official