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Fed Rules Set Aside Funding for Nuke Cleanup Even if FirstEnergy Solutions is in Bankruptcy

Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant in Ottawa, Co., OH
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in the background behind Oak Harbor, OH

FirstEnergy Solutions, the power-generating subsidiary that Akron-based FirstEnergy spun off into a separate company, filed for bankruptcy over the weekend. It owns the Davis Besse and Perry nuclear plants in Ohio and has already said it will close them. How would the bankruptcy affect how the cost of decommissioning those plants?

Perry Nuclear plant
Perry Nuclear Power Station seen from the power transmission array

Victoria Mitlyng is a spokesperson for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  It requires nuclear-plant operators to maintain an independent fund, usually a trust, to make sure the long and costly process of decontamination and decommissioning can be paid for.

And she says there is a procedure in case of a bankruptcy declaration.

“NRC’s office of general counsel would notify the Department of Justice to represent the interests of requirements of decommissioning funding in the bankruptcy proceedings; including protection and preservation of the commissioning fund trusts.”

Mitlyng says the cost of decommissioning a nuclear power plant is usually $300 million to $400 million.