Holtec Requests NRC Approve Sale of Pilgrim Site by End of 2019

Seeks to Complete Decommissioning Decades Earlier

On November 16, 2018, Entergy Corporation and Holtec International, through their affiliates, asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to approve the sale of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to Holtec after shutdown.  According to the associated press release, doing so would allow Holtec to complete decommissioning and site restoration decades sooner than if Entergy completed decommissioning.

OverviewThe companies jointly filed a License Transfer Application, requesting approval for the transfer of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, as well as its Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund, to Holtec after the plant permanently shuts down by June 1, 2019.  They also made detailed separate filings that lay out the process each company would use to decommission the facility.

In order to facilitate a timely transaction closing by the end of 2019, the companies have asked the NRC to approve the application by May 31, 2019.  According to the press release, doing so will benefit the community, employees and other interested constituents.

Holtec’s filings describe the plan of its subsidiary, Holtec Decommissioning International, to complete the dismantling, decontamination and remediation of Pilgrim to NRC standards within eight years of license transfer (i.e., by the end of 2027) assuming timely regulatory approvals.  According to the press release, Holtec’s process will achieve site restoration decades sooner than if Entergy retained the plant while meeting all applicable local, state and federal regulations.

Holtec estimates total costs for decommissioning Pilgrim at $1.13 billion.  As of October 31, 2018, the balance in Pilgrim’s Decommissioning Trust Fund was $1.05 billion.

Holtec has contracted with Comprehensive Decommissioning International, LLC (CDI) to perform the decommissioning, including demolition and site cleanup.  CDI is a joint venture company of Holtec International and SNC-Lavalin.  According to the press release, “The decommissioning experience held by Holtec and SNC-Lavalin gives CDI more than half a century of managing complex projects in both the commercial and government nuclear sectors worldwide.”

Project Highlights

The completion of decommissioning will result in the release of all portions of the site from the current NRC license, with the exception of the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) – the area where spent nuclear fuel is stored in dry casks until the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) transfers the spent fuel offsite.

As part of its plan, Holtec expects to move all spent nuclear fuel into dry casks within three years following plant shutdown.  Additionally, Holtec has a pending application with the NRC for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) in New Mexico, which could eventually store spent nuclear fuel from Pilgrim and other U.S. nuclear power plants.

Background

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station employs about 600 nuclear professionals and generates 680 megawatts of virtually carbon-free electricity, enough to power more than 600,000 homes.  Pilgrim began generating electricity in 1972.  Entergy purchased the plant in 1999 from Boston Edison.

Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations.  Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power.  Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.  Entergy has annual revenues of approximately $11 billion and more than 13,000 employees.

Holtec International is a privately held energy technology company with operation centers in Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania in the United States.  Globally, Holtec International has operation centers in Brazil, Dubai, India, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.  Holtec’s principal business concentration is in the nuclear power industry.  Since the 1980s, Holtec has been densifying wet storage in nuclear plants’ spent fuel pools, which defers the need for and expense of alternative measures by as much as two decades.  Holtec has done this at over 110 reactor units in the United States and abroad.  Holtec also offers services regarding dry storage and transport of nuclear fuel.  Holtec is working to develop the world’s first below-ground CISF in New Mexico and a 160-Megawatt walk away safe small modular reactor, SMR-160.  The SMR-160 is developed to bring cost competitive carbon-free energy to all corners of the earth including water-challenged regions.  Holtec is also a major supplier of special-purpose pressure vessels and critical-service heat exchange equipment such as air-cooled condensers, steam generators, feedwater heaters and water-cooled condensers.  Virtually all products produced by Holtec are built in its three large manufacturing plants in the United States and one in India.

For additional information about the Pilgrim plant, please go to www.pilgrimpower.com.  Additional information about Entergy is available at www.entergy.com.  To learn more about Holtec International, please visit www.holtecinternational.com.  

Proto-Prompt Decommissioning Planned for Pilgrim and Palisades Sites

On August 1, 2018, an agreement was announced for Entergy Corporation to sell the subsidiaries that own the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts and the Palisades Power Plant in Covert, Michigan after their shutdowns and reactor defuelings to a Holtec International subsidiary for accelerated decommissioning.

The sales include the transfer of the licenses, spent fuel, and Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts (NDTs), as well as the site of the decommissioned Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant near Charlevoix, Michigan where only the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) remains.  The transactions are subject to conditions to closing, including approvals from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of the license transfers.

Overview

Assuming timely regulatory approvals, Holtec expects to initiate proto-prompt decommissioning of Pilgrim in 2020, with the expectation that all major decommissioning work will be completed in approximately eight years.  A timeline for the decommissioning of Palisades will be developed closer to its shutdown. For both Pilgrim and Palisades, Holtec expects to move all of the spent nuclear fuel out of their spent fuel pools and into dry cask storage within approximately three years after the plants’ respective shutdowns.

In previous announcements, Entergy has stated that it remains committed to the safe and reliable operation of Pilgrim and Palisades until their permanent shutdowns.  By selling these plants for decommissioning, Entergy continues to execute its strategy to exit Entergy Wholesale Commodities and move to a pure play utility.  Entergy is seeking regulatory approvals to sell its subsidiary that owns the shutdown Vermont Yankee site by the end of 2018.

Next Steps

Holtec and Entergy expect to file a license transfer request with the NRC in the fourth quarter of this year for Pilgrim, with transaction closing targeted by the end of 2019.  For Palisades, the license transfer request would take place closer to its planned shutdown in the spring of 2022, with transaction closing expected by the end of that year.

Holtec will utilize Comprehensive Decommissioning International, LLC (CDI), which is a newly-formed U.S.-based joint venture company between Holtec International and SNC-Lavalin to perform the decommissioning, including all required demolition and cleanup.

“Holtec will draw on its own and its partners’ safety commitment and decades of experience and expertise in decommissioning and site remediation to carry out decommissioning, which could benefit the local communities by returning these plant sites (excluding each site’s used fuel storage facility) to productive use at an early date,” states the press release.  “Holtec will transfer all of the used nuclear fuel to its cask systems to be stored at the respective sites which will remain under guard at the sites, monitored during shutdown and decommissioning and subject to the NRC’s oversight, until the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) removes it in accordance with its legal obligations.”

Background

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is the only nuclear power plant operating in Massachusetts.  It is located in the Manomet section of Plymouth on Cape Cod Bay, south of the tip of Rocky Point and north of Priscilla Beach.  Like many similar plants, it was constructed by Bechtel, and is powered by a General Electric BWR 3 boiling water reactor inside of a Mark 1 pressure suppression type containment and generator.  It has a 690 MW production capacity.  Pilgrim Station produces about 14% of the electricity generated in Massachusetts.  On October 13, 2015, plant owners announced that it would close by June 1, 2019.  Entergy cited “market conditions and increased costs,” which would have included tens of millions of dollars of necessary safety upgrades, as the basis for the decision to close the Pilgrim Station.

The Palisades Nuclear Generating Station is located on Lake Michigan in Van Buren County’s Covert Township, Michigan.  The plant is located on a 432-acre site that is five miles south of South Haven, Michigan. The Westinghouse Electric Company turbine generator can produce 725,000 kilowatts of electricity.  Built between 1967 and 1970, Palisades was approved to operate at full power in 1973.  The plant’s original licensee was due to expire on March 24, 2011.  An application for 20-year extension was filed in 2005 with the NRC.  It was granted on January 18, 2007. Therefore, the plant was then scheduled for decommissioning by 2031.  However, Entergy had made a decision to close the plant in October 2018.  Consumers Energy then attempted to buy its way out of a power purchase agreement it has with Entergy and the plant. The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) did not approve Consumer Energy’s full request of $172 million, however, so Entergy decided to keep the plant open three years longer than planned.  Entergy currently plans to close the Palisades plant in 2022.

For additional information about Holtec International, please see www.holtecinternational.com.  For additional information about CDI, please see www.cdi-decom.com

For additional information about the Pilgrim and Plymouth projects, please contact Erika Grandrimo at (856) 797-0900, ext. 3920 or at e.grandrimo@holtec.com.

Web Page Created on Increased Oversight of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant

In mid-February 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission established a web page on the agency’s website containing information about the agency’s increased oversight of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant. Among the items on the web page are background information, schedules, and NRC correspondence related to the increased oversight, inspection reports and other key documents. As the oversight process moves forward, newly released documents will be added to the page.

In mid-October 2015, Entergy Corporation announced plans to shut down Pilgrim by June 1, 2019. Entergy Corporation, which is one of the largest energy companies in the United States, cited economic factors in making the decision to close the plant.

In September 2015, the NRC announced that Pilgrim had moved to Column 4 of the Action Matrix used to determine the level and types of inspections to be performed at any given plant. Pilgrim—which is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts—made that transition after an inspection finding designated as “White,” or of low to moderate safety significance, was finalized for the facility.

The finding overlapped with two earlier findings that were also of low to moderate safety significance, resulting in an NRC determination that the plant should be in Column 4, also known as the Multiple/Repetitive Degraded Cornerstone Column, and therefore subject to additional oversight.

The web page can be found at http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/reactors/pilg/special-oversight.html. For additional information, please contact Diane Screnci at (610) 337-5330 or Neil Sheehan at (610) 337-5331.