By Kristin Boland
Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2020
In recent months four nuclear power reactors have been sent into decommissioning, three in Europe and one in the United States. The closing of each one brings encouragement and a reminder of the scale of the work which remains.
In December 2019, Switzerland turned off the Mühleberg reactor near Bern. Mühleberg had been in operation for 47 years; the work of decommissioning will require a team of 200 people and is expected to take 15 years, with the cost estimated to be at least $1.4 billion. The closure of Mühleberg is part of Switzerland’s commitment to transition away from nuclear power, opting instead for greater reliance on renewable energy.
Like Switzerland, the French government has begun a move away from nuclear power, although it currently operates 58 nuclear reactors that produce three-quarters of the country’s electricity. The country has committed to close all reactors over 40 years old by 2023.
New York’s Indian Point unit 2 was shut down April 30 and is in the process of being decommissioned, with full shut down of unit 3 in 2021. Indian Point sits on the Hudson River, in a densely populated area of the east coast 30 miles north of New York City. The decommissioning is estimated to be a 12 to 15 year project, costing $2.3 billion.
The closing of each nuclear power reactor is worthy of celebration. Companies may close them because they’re losing money, but governments around the globe are making life-affirming decisions to transition from dangerous nuclear power to sustainable energy sources.