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Crystal River’s nuclear plant retires, but Progress Energy is not leaving


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Duke Energy, the largest power company in the U.S., announced Tuesday it will retire the Crystal River Nuclear Plant after a crack in one of the north Tampa buildings was discovered during a refueling process in 2009.

Mike Hughes, a spokesman for Progress and Duke Energy, said the company considered alternatives to retiring the plant, but made the decision to shut it down after reviewing engineering, financial and replacement costs analyses.

“It is in the best interest of our customers and shareholders, as well as the state of Florida, we believe, to make the decision to retire the plant at this time,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the potential for leaks and disasters during a renovation of the plant was not worth the risk.

Despite the recent decision to close the plant, the actual process to clean the plant site and rid it of hazardous material will take 40 to 60 years.

“We will continue to have significant environmental monitoring at the site (and) we’ll have security at the site,” Hughes said.

Mark Johnson, director of Levy County Emergency Management, said, “Our job is to coordinate with the utility [and] the state and federal agencies that regulate it and to protect our residents in the unlikely event of an accident at Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant.”

For now, energy will be provided to customers through other Progress Energy Plants on the Florida system, other utility providers or a combination of the two.

Alternative fuel sources, such as new natural gas power plants, are being considered, including as proposal from 2007 for a new nuclear power plant in Levy County.

No final decision on whether to build the new nuclear plant has been made, but the option is viable for the future, Hughes said.

Mary Olson, the Southeast coordinator for Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said power plants shouldn’t have even been built to begin with.

“Closure of Crystal River illustrates that nuclear is a very bad investment for the customers and the environment,” she said.

Hughes says despite the steady workload ahead of the plant, funding is adequate. According to Huffington Post Green, Progress Energy received $835 million in an insurance settlement that will be refunded to customers who were forced to pay for higher-cost replacement power.

Leila Milgrim wrote this story online. 

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