Trojan decommissioning complete, but fuel rods remain
November 25, 2008
By Tony Lystra
The Daily News Online
Portland General Electric says it is largely finished decommissioning the former Trojan nuclear power plant bordering the Columbia River south of Rainier. Spokesman Steve Corson said the company finished tearing down Trojan’s “containment building,” which once housed the plant’s nuclear reactor, this fall.
“There are no plans to remove anything further,” Corson said.
The demolition, which involved smashing apart super-thick concrete walls, was one of the final steps in the decades-long process of removing buildings from the landmark plant after it shut down in 1993. The plant is the first large-scale commercial nuclear facility in the U.S. to be decommissioned, the company said.
All that remains of the nuclear facility, which began operating in 1976, are radioactive fuel rods, contained in concrete casks and guarded around the clock. Those, Corson said, will remain at the site until the federal Yucca Mountain radioactive storage facility opens in Nevada.
Federal regulators have not yet signed off on the long-delayed construction of the Nevada storage facility. The last of the fuel rod assemblies is scheduled to ship to Yucca Mountain in 2030, Corson said.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear how the 634-acre Trojan site will be used, he said.
“That is an open question,” he said. “We really have not made any decisions and don’t have any specific plans in place.”
Also an open question is the future of nuclear power in the U.S. and the Northwest, a hot topic during this year’s presidential campaign.
Opening another nuclear facility in the region seems unlikely during the next two decades, Corson said. In 1980, Oregon voters made it illegal to build a nuclear plant without voter approval and without a proper disposal facility for nuclear waste.
“We’re not going to be proposing a nuclear portfolio that we wouldn’t be legally allowed to build,” Corson said.
Still, he said, looking beyond the next two decades, “We’re going to have to need every tool in the toolbox,” he said.
PGE imploded Trojan’s 499-foot-tall cooling tower in 2006. Last year, the company demolished the so-called “power block,” which had contained the plant’s control room, electricity generating turbine and fuel storage areas.
The containment building, destroyed this fall, had held Trojan’s reactor, which has been buried at the Hanford nuclear repository in Eastern Washington.