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The companies that own most of the nation’s aging nuclear reactors are not putting aside an adequate amount of money to properly close them when the time comes, an Associated Press review of financial records found.
Part of the problem is that the nuclear industry has been battered, along with everyone else, by the stock market and the sour economy. Critics, however, say that the industry has never put enough money aside to close plants.
Instead of planning for closure, plant owners are delaying the inevitable, with the help of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC has given 19 plants permission to mothball their reactors for as many as 60 years before closing them. The commission has also granted 20-year license extensions for 54 reactors, more than half of the nation’s plants, which could mean closure would come in 80 years.