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Risks, rewards accompany speedier cleanup of closed nukes

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PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — Companies specializing in the handling of radioactive material are buying retired U.S. nuclear reactors from utilities and promising to clean them up and demolish them in dramatically less time than usual — eight years instead of 60, in some cases.

Turning nuclear plants over to outside companies and decommissioning them on such a fast track represents a completely new approach in the United States, never before carried to completion in this country, and involves new technology as well.

Supporters say the accelerated method can get rid of a hazard more quickly and return the land to productive use sooner. But regulators, activists and others question whether the rapid timetables are safe and whether the companies have the expertise and the financial means to do the job.

"We were up in arms that it was 60 years," Janet Tauro, head of the environmental group New Jersey Clean Water Action, said of the initial plans for decommissioning the Oyster Creek plant. "And then we hear it's going to be expedited to eight years. It's great to get it over with, but are there corners that are going be cut?"


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