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Question: How do nuclear plants ensure they have sufficient funds to cover decommissioning costs in the event of an accident?


U.S. companies that operate nuclear energy facilities are required by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to maintain property damage insurance and a separate decommissioning trust fund to ensure funding is available to decommission the facility.

Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited (NEIL), the U.S. industry’s mutual insurance company, provides insurance coverage for accidental property damage and extended down time resulting from an incident. For property damage and on-site decontamination, up to $2.75 billion is available to each nuclear energy facility. The policies provide coverage for direct physical damage to, or destruction of, the insured property as a result of a casualty loss, including an accident. The policies prioritize payment of expenses to stabilize the reactor to a safe condition and then decontaminate the plant site.

NRC regulations also require each NRC licensee to maintain a decommissioning trust fund to ensure funding is available to decommission the facility.  Plant owners may either provide the NRC minimum amount of funding based on their reactor design or provide a site-specific analysis of the funding that will be required for decommissioning activities.  The NRC requires licensees to verify the fund balance every two years to demonstrate funding adequacy.  Trust fund requirements range from $280 million to more than $600 million based on reactor designs.

Who paid for the clean-up at Three Mile Island?

The costs for decommissioning the Three Mile Island 2 (TMI) were borne by General Public Utilities (GPU) and Metropolitan Edison, which shared ownership of the reactor.  The fuel has been removed from TMI 2 and decommissioning will be completed after TMI 1 is closed.

Learn more about nuclear energy and related topics in NEI’s “Ask an Expert” section.


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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First