Letter to the Editor

Nuclear shutdown overblown

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Associated Press article ("Funds to shut nuclear plants falling short," June 17) was a sensationalized depiction of the current status of decommissioning funds for U.S. nuclear energy facilities.

The AP could have taken this tack: Despite the nation's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, 70 percent of the nation's nuclear reactors continue to meet regulatory requirements for decommissioning funding at power plants that, by and large, will continue to operate and accrue decommissioning funds into the 2030s and beyond.

Every power reactor that has been or is being decommissioned has been able to fund and safely perform decommissioning activities. Nonetheless, two AP reporters penned a sensationalized account focusing on the less-than-shocking news that market-based decommissioning funds haven't been immune to the financial crisis. For the minority of funds that are not at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's desired level, companies will be asked how they plan to resolve the problem.

Most nuclear power plants will operate to 2030 and beyond, so there will be time to assure sufficient decommissioning funding.

AP made much of the fact that 19 closed plants are in a safe storage status that may extend up to 60 years before a plant is actually dismantled. This approach is appropriate both for safety and financial reasons (i.e., allowing further maturation of decommissioning funds.) This is the most sensible approach -- one backed by federal regulators.

SCOTT PETERSON, Vice President, Nuclear Energy Institute, Washington, D.C.