Since 2013, six commercial nuclear reactors in the United States have shut down, and an additional eight reactors have announced plans to retire by 2025. The retirement process for nuclear power plants involves disposing of nuclear waste and decontaminating equipment and facilities to reduce residual radioactivity, making it much more expensive and time consuming than retiring other power plants. As of 2017, a total of 10 commercial nuclear reactors in the United States have been successfully decommissioned, and another 20 U.S. nuclear reactors are currently in different stages of the decommissioning process.
To fully decommission a power plant, the facility must be
deconstructed and the site returned to greenfield status (meaning the
site is safe for reuse for purposes such as housing, farming, or
industrial use). Nuclear reactor operators must safely dispose of any
onsite nuclear waste and remove or contain any radioactive material,
including nuclear fuel as well as irradiated equipment and buildings.