NRC Considers Penalties for Exelon, Alleges Lower-Than-Required Decommissioning Estimates Filed for 23 Reactors Over Multiple Years

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has notified Exelon of potential penalties following an investigation spanning more than two years into the utility's nuclear plant decommissioning funds.

"Based upon the evidence developed, the investigation did substantiate that a senior Exelon executive and an Exelon manager appear to have deliberately provided incomplete and inaccurate information to the NRC in Exelon's 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 DFS (decommissioning fund status) reports. These actions appear to have placed Exelon in violation of 10 CFR 50.9," read a document the NRC sent to Exelon's chief nuclear officer Thursday. It goes on to request Exelon's involvement in a pre-decisional enforcement conference and notifies the company that the agency is considering "escalated enforcement action in accordance with the NRC Enforcement Policy."

All commercial power reactors in the U.S., operating or not, are required to maintain funds for their decommissioning that meet rigid federal standards. Exelon has been required to update the NRC on the funds for its reactors since 1999, and the NRC reported that its investigation "determined that Exelon apparently failed to provide complete and accurate information to the NRC in the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 Exelon DFS reports."

According to the NRC letter and its attachments, internal Exelon documents calculated the correct minimum amounts associated with the 2005 DFS report, but cost estimates provided to the NRC for 23 plants were lower than allowed by regulations. In the 2006 report, the NRC document said, the utility provided minimum cost estimates for 11 reactors that were less than allowed.

In the next round of reporting, the NRC document said, "spreadsheets, prepared by an Exelon executive, identify columns of funding amounts calculated using the NRC formula. The spreadsheets also identify columns of cost estimates, which are lower than the NRC formula. These lower estimates were provided for 23 plants reported in Exelon's 2007 DFS Report."

The NRC investigation goes on further to allege, "Notations in cells in internal Exelon spreadsheets used in the preparation of DFS reports for reporting years 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011 identify senior-level Exelon employees as being responsible for the calculation of cost estimates lower than allowed by 10 CFR SO.75(b) and (c). The evidence obtained during the investigation indicates that a senior Exelon executive and an Exelon manager exercised a high level of involvement and responsibility in the preparation of the DFS reports. One individual was responsible for the actual calculations and collection of data used in the calculations of the NRC minimum formula and the site-specific estimates in the DFS reports from 2001-2007. Both individuals were involved with the preparation of the 2009 DFS report."

That year, the NRC reported, estimates for 23 plants' funds fell below agency minimums. The document released to the public did not give specific amounts, although the report said "the underreporting of decommissioning funding cost estimates for 2009 was of particular concern to the NRC staff because the total amount of shortfalls was significant and impacted several reactors in the Exelon fleet."

Exelon changed its methodology for estimating the decommissioning costs in 2011, according to NRC documents. "Internal Exelon spreadsheets for 2011 confirm that lower cost estimates, determined using a methodology not allowed by 10 CFR SO.7S(b) and (c), were no longer part of Exelon's decommissioning spreadsheets. The cost estimates calculated in the 2011 spreadsheets are the same as those reported to the NRC in the 2011 DFS report," an NRC document read.

NRC Exelon report. Source: NRC(Adapted from the NRC's Jan 31 mailing, ADAMS number 13008A219)

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  • Anonymous

    ADAMS Accession Numbers are preceded by ML; it's not just the number shown above.

  • Anonymous

    Skimming decommissioning funds for Corporate profits and bonuses. This will not stop until some executive goes to jail. Sounds just like the bankers.