How will funding for eventual plant decommissioning be financially assured?
By law, every commercial nuclear power station puts aside a portion of the money from power generation to be used for the plant’s future decommissioning. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulates how much money must be put aside, how much must be accumulated and whether the bank accounts holding the accumulated money are secure. The required amount of financial assurance and the financial mechanism for providing that funding are specifically reviewed and approved by the NRC as a part of the initial licensing process. These federal requirements ensure that the government (the taxpayer) is never put in a position to have to pay for cleanup or decommissioning of a commercial nuclear facility. Evaluations of recent plant decommissionings indicate that decommissioning funds have been determined to be sufficient. Examples include SONGS ("the current level of funding in Southern California Edison’s nuclear decommissioning trust is sufficient at this time to meet SCE’s share of the estimated cost of decommissioning SONGS 2 & 3…") and Vermont Yankee ("the cash flow analysis demonstrates that VYNPS trust fund is sufficiently funded for all license termination activities and certain spent fuel management activities…")