Consideration of Subsurface Utilities in Plant Decommissioning Planning

GAI’s Edward Sciulli, PG, PMP recently published an article examining how subsurface utility surveys can reduce risk when power facilities decommission their plants. Read the published article in the April 2015 issue of the Natural Gas & Electricity Journal or check out the submitted version below.

Power generating plants are being shut down, decommissioned, and demolished across the United States (U.S.). This current move away from aging and less efficient power plants is largely being driven by changes in environmental and regulatory requirements, the high cost of modernizing infrastructure to meet new standards, new and more efficient power generation technology, and the current abundance of alternative cleaner fuels. When it is economically infeasible to re-tool existing plants to take advantage of new technology or alternate fuels, owners are electing to decommission and demolish these facilities.

One of the many potential problems associated with decommissioning and demolition plans for long-standing power plants is the accuracy and completeness of existing plant information. This is particularly true regarding the documentation of subsurface utilities and other subsurface infrastructure. Power stations constructed in the 1950s and 1960s have usually gone through several stages of upgrades and additions to the original plant, which may have also included abandonment of older systems. In some cases, these upgrades and abandonments are well documented. However, in most instances, system modifications over the years are not well documented or existing documentation is incomplete.

As will be discussed below, the existence and location of subsurface utilities and other subsurface infrastructure can be a significant risk factor in the planning and execution of a successful, safe, and cost-effective demolition and remediation project. Fortunately for plant owners, consultants, and contractors involved in the decommissioning and demolition process, standard guidelines exist for designating and locating existing subsurface infrastructure. Those involved in the planning and design of the demolition and remediation process should include an assessment of the subsurface infrastructure as part of the planning due diligence to decrease potential risk and, more importantly, provide for an increased measure of safety…

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For more information on how GAI can assist with Plant Decommissioning Planning, contact Senior Hydrogeology Manager, Edward Sciulli, PG, PMP at 412.476.2000.

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