Up & Atom

The NRC staff recently issued findings from their review of the 2021 decommissioning funding status (DFS) reports submitted by power reactor licensees and licensees of power reactors in decommissioning. These reports are required by NRC regulations to ensure that adequate funds are available for the complete decommissioning of licensed facilities. The NRC staff’s review found that all currently operating power reactors and reactors in decommissioning demonstrated that they have adequate funds for decommissioning.

As a brief background, NRC regulations require operating power reactors to report, on a biennial basis, the status of their decommissioning funds to the NRC. The overall objective is to show that funds will be sufficient for the safe radiological decommissioning of each reactor. Under 10 CFR 50.75, these reports must include, among other things, the amount of decommissioning funds accumulated to the end of the calendar year before the report and a schedule of the annual amounts remaining to be collected. The most common method of satisfying this requirement is through a qualified Nuclear Decommissioning Trust (NDT). NDTs have long-term investment horizons and are eligible for favorable tax treatment, but are subject to certain investment and use restrictions.

For power reactors in decommissioning, 10 CFR 50.82 requires the annual reports to include the amount spent on decommissioning, both cumulative and over the previous calendar year, and an estimate of the costs to complete decommissioning. If the remaining decommissioning funds do not cover the estimated costs to complete decommissioning, the DFS report must include additional financial assurance to cover the estimated costs.

The NRC staff’s review of the most recent DFS reports found that a total of $71.1 billion has accumulated in NDTs for operating power reactors and $12.4 billion remained in the NDTs for those reactors in decommissioning as of December 31, 2021. This amount, along with any other financial assurances, was sufficient to satisfy the estimated costs to complete decommissioning.