With the nuclear plant and the two oldest coal plants on the Duke Crystal River site now closed and scheduled for eventual demolition, the county commission is entertaining the idea of reviving the Port Citrus idea using the intake canal coming in to the plant.
The idea has obvious advantages over the earlier Port Citrus idea of using the barge canal, because the shipping channel leading from the Gulf to the plant has been dredged enough to allow ocean-going barges to traverse it, and there is a rail line going into the plant.
This is part of the information that is in the 2011 study done to support the county’s designation as a port.
At the time, however, Duke said it was not interested in developing a port on the plant site.
Since that time, the three generating units alongside the intake canal have been closed, and with Duke now planning to demolish the coal plants soon and start the decommissioning process next year, the county hopes the company will be more interested in working with the county to develop the port.
However, even if Duke is willing to work with the county, there are significant obstacles to developing the port.
First, even with the nuclear plant shut down, the used fuel from the plant is still stored on site. This fuel is stored in concrete bunkers and would need to be moved to a permanent repository before a port could be developed.
Also, even though the two coal units adjacent to the intake canal are to be demolished, the coal yard on the south side of the intake canal would remain in operation because it receives coal that will be burned in the plants to the north of the canal. All coal coming in to the plant, either by rail, or by barge, is unloaded in this coal yard and then sent by conveyor belt to the remaining two coal plants.
None of these are insurmountable issues, but they underscore that should the plant site ever be developed as a port, it will take time, money, and close cooperation with Duke to make it happen.