12 Cost Estimates and Schedule
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The decommissioning cost estimate and schedule do not stand-alone; they are an integral part of the planning for a project from the concept to the final implementation. The cost estimate and schedule are linked inseparably, as changes to the cost affect the schedule, and vice versa. Only with an accurate cost estimate and schedule can management usefully track costs and project trends.
Reliable cost estimating is one of the most important elements of decommissioning planning. Alternative technologies may be evaluated and compared based on efficiency and effectiveness, and measured against a baseline cost as to the feasibility and benefits derived. When the plan is complete, those cost considerations ensure that it is economically sound and practical for funding.
Estimates of decommissioning costs have been performed and published by many organizations. The results of an estimate may differ because of different work scopes, different labor force costs, different money values because of inflation, different oversight costs, the specific contaminated materials involved, the waste stream and peripheral costs associated with that type of waste, or applicable environmental compliance requirements. Some of the divergence in costs, however, cannot be easily explained, and this lack of consistency prohibits direct estimating by measuring standard quantities, such as initial capital east, facility size (megawatts), square footage of facilities, or volumes of waste streams. At some point, it may be possible to multiply one or more of these measurements by some predetermined number to arrive at a cost estimate. But until such a system is proven to be reliable, a reasonable degree of reliability and accuracy can only be achieved by developing decommissioning cost estimates on a case-by-case basis.