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Exclusive interviews on nuclear power plant decommissioning

Patrick Wilson reports on risk management in nuclear power plant decommissioning

Once final fuel removal has been performed, a significant portion of the risk of over 90 percent has been minimized. You might say "Well, it's no longer a problem to design the rest of the nuclear power plant decommissioning." - However, the risks change. During decommissioning, systems will begin to be penetrated, structures will be dismantled, and this will result in additional radioactive waste. In addition, previously closed systems and materials will be exposed.

In Germany, we are a lot further along in the dismantling of nuclear power plants than in the United Kingdom, for example. We are therefore asking ourselves how we can use this knowledge and experience and transfer it to England, for example, in terms of waste management.

The systems and processes in place have allowed us to do some exploratory work to find out what the status of the plant and the radiological inventory is. This very structured, controlled, step-by-step process allows us to make safety assessments that point the way to the next steps.

Michael Kruse reports on partnerships in the nuclear industry

If we look at the development in the individual countries worldwide, we see that there are about 90 power reactors that will be decommissioned in the next 10 years. The situation is such that the majority of nuclear power plants that will be taken off the grid and decommissioned will initially be found in Western and Northern Europe. This includes mainly countries such as Germany, Belgium and Sweden, as well as Great Britain. Beyond this, the market will develop more strongly in the direction of North America and the Asian countries in the coming years, which will then also include Japan and, in perspective, Korea.

Partnerships are an important topic: In recent years, a wide variety of corporate partnerships have been established, and in some cases joint ventures have also been set up. A well-known example is the merger of HOLTEC and ATKINS, which also established a joint venture to operate jointly in the dismantling market. In addition, companies that are very active in the deconstruction trades have joined forces in recent years to expand their range of services. The advantages and disadvantages are discussed in Mr. Kruse's article.

Alexander Waag reports on project planning for the decommissioning of nuclear power plants

When involving new companies in particular in the dismantling of nuclear power plants, the following understanding must be established above all: Dismantling is not demolition. A nuclear plant has its specifics, and the project is divided into numerous sub-projects. This means that we have long project durations, in some cases of over 20 years.

Before dismantling comes construction, which means that new vibration dampers, stiffening frames, completely new ventilation systems, shielding, transport routes, airlocks and storage areas have to be built. In addition, there are static and geotechnical tests, as well as additional room separation in compliance with radiation protection requirements. For some customers, the dismantling department initially has to spend about a year setting up new structures with more than 80 percent of the capacities used.

Our goal is to ensure sustainability in the dismantling process, because the factor of occupational safety and protection of people as well as the nuclear facility has top priority.

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