Funds for nuclear plant decommissioning depleted


in Economics, Law, Politics, The environment

Apparently, the variability of the stock market is having an impact on the dismantling of American nuclear power plants, by driving down the value of the investments set aside to pay for it:

During the past two years, estimates of dismantling costs have soared by more than $4.6 billion because rising energy and labor costs, while the investment funds that are supposed to pay for shutting plants down have lost $4.4 billion in the battered stock market.

The process of decommissioning involves moving millions of pounds of radioactive waste, much of it concrete. Maine Yankee, a plant that is currently being decommissioned, has over 100,000 tonnes of material being carted off one trainload at a time. The American Nuclear Regulatory Commission has polled 18 nuclear power plants on how the downturn is affecting their decommissioning plans. In some cases, plans for decommissioning are being delayed for as long as sixty years: during which time, the plants are simply expected to sit idle.

Having inadequate private funds for decommissioning is a major cause of environmental problems, for instance with facilities like mines. They also cause situations in which profits accrue to investors and costs are shunted off onto future taxpayers. The possibility is one that deserves to be borne in mind when developing national energy policies.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. August 2, 2009 at 6:40 pm

More fools who thought their money would be safe in the stock market.

How is your bet going, by the way?

Milan August 5, 2009 at 6:37 pm

My bet is up $43.67 (8.7%) since May 20th.

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