The decommissioning of the twin 1040MWe PWRs at Zion, near Chicago USA is a ground breaking programme. The original owner, Exelon Nuclear Corporation, transferred the full responsibility for reactor dismantling and site license termination to a subsidiary of EnergySolutions. The target end state of the Zion site for return to Exelon will be a green field with the exception of the dry fuel storage pad. In return, ZionSolutions has access to the full value of the decommissioning trust fund. There are two potential attractions of this model: lower overall cost and significant schedule acceleration. The Zion programme which commenced in September 2010 is designed to return the cleared site with an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) pad in 2020, 12 years earlier than planned by Exelon. The overall cost, at $500M per full size power reactor is significantly below the long run trend of $750M+ per PWR.
Implementation of the accelerated programme has been underway for nearly three years and is making good progress. The programme is characterised by numerous projects proceeding in parallel. The critical path is defined by the inspection and removal of fuel from the pond and transfer into dry fuel storage casks on the ISFSI pad and completion of RPV segmentation. Fuel loading is expected to commence in mid-2013 with completion in late 2014. In parallel, ZionSolutions is proceeding with the segmentation of the Reactor Vessel (RV) and internals in both Units. Removal of large components from Unit 1 is underway. Numerous other projects are underway or have been completed to date. They include access openings into both containments, installation of heavy lift crane capacity, rail upgrades to support waste removal from the site, radiological characterization of facilities and equipment and numerous related tasks. As at February 2013, the programme is just ahead of schedule and within the latest budget. The paper will provide a fuller update.
The first two years of the Zion programme offer some interesting learning opportunities. The critical importance of leadership and project control systems will be emphasised in the paper. Strong supplier relationships and good community co-operation are essential. A learning and adaptable team, incentivised to meet schedule and budget, drives affordability of the whole programme. Our key lessons so far concern organisation and people as much as engineering and technology.