"The government does a poor job of estimating what it will cost to tear down a nuclear reactor, Congressional auditors say, and it may not be overseeing plant owners well enough to assure that they set aside enough money to do the job."
"For a study it plans to issue on Monday, the Government Accountability Office scrutinized 12 of the nation’s 104 power reactors and found that for 5 of them, the decommissioning cost calculated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was 76 percent or less of what the reactor’s owner thought would be needed.
The most striking example was Indian Point 3 in Buchanan, N.Y., which could be forced to close by 2015 because of a licensing dispute. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimated the cost of decommissioning the reactor at $474.2 million, just 57 percent of the “site-specific” estimate made by Entergy, the owner, which put the figure at $836.45 million.
After reactors are retired, they must eventually be torn down and their radioactive components hauled away for burial, an expensive task. The process is full of uncertainties, including figuring out just when the plant will retire. So far reactors have generally shut down when the market for electricity softened or they ran into unexpected technical problems."