Guides and Resources

Along with providing free technical assistance to Nuclear Communities, the Economic Development team at Smart Growth America compiled this list of helpful guides, definitions, and resources for communities that host a nuclear power plant.


  • Nuclear closure community: communities that host or are in the region of a nuclear power plant currently undergoing decommissioning, previously decommissioned, or would feel the impact of an eventual closure.
  • Nuclear decommissioning: the process by which nuclear power plants are retired from service and terminate the operating licenses granted by the NRC. The process involves decontaminating the facility to reduce residual radioactivity, dismantling the structures, removing contaminated materials to appropriate disposal facilities, storing used nuclear fuel, and releasing the property for other uses.
  • Brownfield: a property, the expansion, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
  • CEDS: Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies are the result of a regionally-owned planning process, designed to build capacity and guide the economic prosperity and resilience of an area or region.
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis: defines the region’s competitive advantages– those indigenous assets that make the region special or competitive in the national and global economies– juxtaposed against those internal or external factors that can keep a region from realizing its potential.
  • SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results) analysis: relatively new, more positive, asset-based technique than SWOT analysis; allows for a more focused discussion on the positive aspects of organizational development and community assets.
  • Economic & fiscal impact analysis: estimates how the proposed project or action impacts the community’s fiscal outlook, and describes the value of the project by showing how the project affects your community’s revenue and service needs.
  • EDDs: Economic Development Districts are multi jurisdictional entities, commonly composed of multiple counties and, in certain cases, may be across state borders.
  • Spent fuel: nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in a nuclear reactor and is no longer useful in sustaining a nuclear reaction in an ordinary thermal reactor.
  • Nuclear waste storage: there are two acceptable storage methods for spent fuels after it is removed from the reactor core: spent fuel pools and dry cask storage.
  • SAFSTOR: one of the two tracks for a nuclear power plant to be decommissioned. In this process, a nuclear plant is kept intact and placed in protective storage for an extended period of time, allowing radioactive elements to decay to stable elements.
  • DECON: the second track a plant can take in decommissioning. In this process, the operator first decontaminates or removes contaminated equipment and materials from the facility which significantly lowers the radiation level. This process can take up to five years.