June 19, 2018
FES Nuclear Decommissioning Funds Inadequate, Consumer Groups Tell NRC
By John Funk, The Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The trust funds that FirstEnergy created years ago to pay for the demolition of its nuclear power plants and clean-up are no longer adequate, a coalition of consumer and environmental groups is arguing today at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Citing research done by an independent investment consulting company, lawyers for the Midwest-based Environmental Law and Policy Center and a veteran nuclear reactor expert have petitioned the NRC to take another look at the trust funds.
The NRC’s Petition Review Board is not expected to make a decision on the ELPC request immediately, said an agency spokesman.
The ELPC is arguing that as of Dec. 31, 2016, the trust funds were nearly $2.75 billion short. That’s the last publicly available decommissioning fund data.
And that date was before FENOC and plant owner FirstEnergy Solutions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors who were owed more than an estimated $2 billion on March 31 of this year.
Still, on April 4, the NRC issued a statement declaring that the company’s decommissioning funds met NRC regulations.
A spokesman for FES/FENOC had no comment, other than to cite the April 4 NRC statement.
Howard Learner, a lawyer and executive director of the ELPC, said the announced shutdown of the power plants by 2021 means the funds will have even less time to grow before they are needed to pay for decommissioning.
He said the shortfall will probably mean that the company will delay decommissioning the reactors after it shuts them down and instead move them into an NRC category called SAFSTOR.