Our team has spent the last few months speaking to a variety of communities who host nuclear power plants that run the gamut: from stations that have long since closed to those closing soon or perhaps not for decades into the future. While each host community has its own unique set of circumstances, obstacles and opportunities, we are seeing patterns emerge as we continue talking to these host communities. For some great insights, read this “view from the field” from Jim Hamilton with the Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative.
Building community capacity and strengthening resiliency
The services we are providing to local communities generally fall into three categories. The first two, planning and evaluation/analysis are available at no cost to host communities under our existing Cooperative Agreement with the Economic Development Administration (EDA). As action/implementation efforts are more substantial in scope, these may be undertaken with additional support from EDA available through the Nuclear Closure Communities grant program.
Planning. We assist communities just getting started on their resiliency journey. In this stage, our services focus on establishing baseline information such as modeling the economic relationship between the plant and the surrounding region. We also provide first-hand knowledge about what to expect during the decommissioning process and how local communities may work to influence outcomes. We find that the best planning comes from a solid understanding of the fundamentals.
Evaluation / Analysis. With the basics in place, we help host communities evaluate and analyze a variety of economic development scenarios. We help communities model the impacts of plant closure and create various strategies to mitigate closure-related job loss. Development of mitigation and resiliency strategies can begin before, during or after plant closure but we often find that early planning, wherever possible, is a community’s best approach.
Action / Implementation. Implementation plans build upon good planning and analysis. These can range from the implementation of economic resiliency programs to more substantive infrastructure projects targeted at mitigating the impacts of plant closure.
Two difficult questions: economic subsidies for nuclear power and disposing of spent nuclear fuel
The issue of subsidies to support the ongoing operation of nuclear power plants is heating up. Power companies are making announcements that plants will be shut down without increased subsidies, other states are taking steps to eliminate current subsidies, and the fate of numerous plants are tied to this question of subsidies. The spent nuclear fuel (waste) generated from a plant’s operation has long been a burden to host communities. While the federal government is responsible for finding a permanent solution, they have not and over 80,000 tons of this fuel remains stranded at nuclear power plants across the country. This makes redevelopment or re-use challenging. For more on these two thorny issues, read Jim’s full post here >>