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Strategies in Decommissioning

Decommissioning is the process of dismantling or shutting down a plant, demolishing a building, or the removal of equipment from a site, or shutting down a nuclear facility. This process is done in order to protect the public from health hazards brought about by the facility. The technical operation of decommissioning involves decontamination of the facility, dismantling, and waste management. The purpose of decommissioning is not just to destroy the building or the plant but rather to free the plant operator from the obligation in terms of health and safety of those within the radius of the building. After the dismantling process, the facility is then considered clear but it remains under the status of ‘unrestricted use’.

Strategies

1) Immediate dismantling- the process immediately begins upon the shutdown of the plant facility. It is expected to begin after the transition period and it will continue with the process until it reaches the stage of regulatory control.

 

2) Deferred dismantling- the process of decommissioning may be delayed or deferred for a period of time, in some instances, it may even take years, provided that the facility has been decontaminated and proven free from health and environmental hazards. The facility is continuously monitored to ensure that no potential hazards are threatening the area. During the phase of transition, all equipments that pose hazards are removed from the facility, such as spent fuel and legacy waste. This process of removal is undertaken to free the facility from dangerous elements and at the same to prepare the facility for its forthcoming demolition or dismantling.

 

 

 

3) Entombment- this decommissioning strategy involves the enclosing in a protective area the hazard materials in the facility.


Steps in building decommissioning

1) The first step is to take note of all the safety precautions, especially in terms of health. The project of building demolition will be first reviewed by the environmental, health, and safety staff to determine the necessary permits needed. Priority is given to those facilities that pose more hazards than others.

 

2) The major concern in decommissioning are the presence of asbestos, materials that contain lead, soils and other materials that have been contaminated with petroleum products. Once these health hazards have been determined, the process of stopping the damage must be undertaken before demolition begins for these elements will pose health hazards to workers.


Decommissioning, therefore, is the process of shutting down a plant so as to remove or encapsulate materials proven to be hazardous to health and the environment. This also involves proper waste management for such materials.