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Union of Concerned Scientists

Similarly, the number of year-plus reactor outages per decade (Figure 10) shows that the problem has not disappeared with the passage of time.

The Causes

More than 70 percent of all year-plus reactor outages were the result of broad, programmatic breakdowns that allowed safety margins to dete- riorate to unacceptable levels (Figure 11). About 22 percent were necessitated by the replacement and repair of large components. The remain- ing eight percent were the result of events that caused extensive damage to the plants.

The Costs

Based on information supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE),1 UCS estimated the lost revenue for each year-plus reactor outage (Figure 12). We multiplied the outage duration

Figure 10. Reactors Experiencing Year-plus Outages (by Decade)

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0

1966–1975

1976–1985

1986–1995

1996–2005

by several factors: the electrical output of the reactor, the average capacity factor for reactors in that decade, and the average price of electricity for that period.

We also attempted to estimate the total costs associated with all 51 year-plus outages, but pub- licly available reports do not consistently break out labor, equipment, and other costs associated with the generation of replacement power during an extended outage.

Estimating lost revenue allows relative com- parisons across time and reactor size. Suffice it to say that, through bad management and inef- fective regulatory oversight, year-plus outages have cost ratepayers and stockholders nearly $82 billion in lost revenue (in 2005 dollars) over time. Regardless of cause, location, reactor type, and owner, these outages also accounted for nearly 135 reactor years (or 3.4 reactor lifetimes) of downtime.

Figure 11. Reactors Experiencing Year-plus Outages (by Cause)

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Damage recovery

Component replacement/repair

Safety restoration

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