Vermont Yankee’s Used Fuel Placed in Dry Storage

On August 2, 2018, Holtec International announced the successful completion of the largest defueling project of a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) in the United States.  According to Holtec, the project was completed in record time.

Entergy Nuclear signed a contract with Holtec to expeditiously defuel the Vermont Yankee spent fuel pool.  The overall project scope included construction of a second ISFSI pad, security expansion, engineering, licensing, manufacturing, delivering and loading of 45 HI-STORM cask systems, all on a turnkey basis.

For additional information, please contact Erika Grandrimo at (856) 797-0900, ext. 3920 or at e.grandrimo@holtec.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.

Public Meetings Scheduled re Proposed Holtec Consolidated Interim Spent Fuel Facility in New Mexico

On April 9, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking public comment on the scope of its environmental review of Holtec International’s application for a license to construct and operate a consolidated interim spent fuel storage facility in Lea County, New Mexico.  NRC staff will hold a series of public meetings in late April and early May to describe the review process and take public comments.

Overview

According to the license application, Holtec is seeking to store up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium in commercial spent fuel in the Holtec International Storage Module Underground “MAXimum” Capacity (HI-STORM UMAX) Storage System for a 40-year license term.  The subterranean used nuclear fuel storage system has a maximum storage capacity of 10,000 canisters.  The initial license application is for 500 storage cavities.  The NRC previously certified HI-STORM UMAX in Docket number 72-1040.

“Engineered over a decade ago and licensed by the NRC in 2015, HI-STORM UMAX is physically sized to store all of the used nuclear fuel produced in the U.S. and all canisters currently licensed in dry storage in the country making it a truly universal used fuel storage facility,” states Holtec.  “Already deployed at multiple nuclear power plants around the U.S. …, the HI-STORM UMAX stores the stainless steel canister containing the spent fuel or high-level waste entirely below-ground to serve as a ‘security-friendly’ storage facility, providing a clear, unobstructed view of the entire CISF from any location.  HI-STORE CIS is envisioned to unify the storage of all different storage canisters (both vertically and horizontally stored) in one standardized HI-STORM UMAX cavity system simplifying operations and aging management activities.”

“Storing the Nation’s used nuclear fuel in the HI-STORM UMAX system is a temporary measure, as the stainless-steel canisters are easily retrievable and ready for transport pending the determination of a safe permanent solution for managing used nuclear materials.,” continues Holtec.  “The canisters are designed, qualified, and tested to survive and prevent the release of radioactive material under the most adverse accident scenarios postulated by NRC regulations for both storage and transportation.”

Holtec is using its own funds to support the licensing action.  According to Holtec, the project has “the enthusiastic support of nuclear-savvy communities in southeastern New Mexico incorporated as the Eddy Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), LLC.”  If the initial application is approved, Holtec plans to make supplemental submittals to incorporate the various canister types being used in the industry.

The Holtec application and other documents related to the NRC’s review are available on the NRC website at www.nrc.gov.

Public Comment

On April 25, 2018, NRC will hold the first “scoping” meeting at the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.  The meeting is scheduled from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET.  There will also be a webinar so people unable to attend in person may follow the meeting.  Interested stakeholders may participate in the meeting via webinar at

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7824864004787186434.

NRC staff will also hold three meetings in New Mexico as follows:

  • April 30, 2018 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. MT at the Eastern New Mexico University- Roswell, Campus Union Building, Multi-Purpose Room 110, which is located at 48 University Boulevard in Roswell;
  • May 1, 2018 from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. MT at the
Lea County Event Center, which is located at 5101 N. Lovingston Highway in Hobbs; and,
  • May 3, 2018 from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. MT at the Eddy County Fire Service, which is located at 1400 Commerce Drive in Carlsbad.

The first meeting will be an open house and poster session.  The other two meetings will be full scoping meetings.  NRC staff members will hold an open house one hour before each of the Hobbs and Carlsbad meetings to meet informally with members of the public.  A court reporter will be available to record comments at all locations.  Spanish-speaking staff will be available at the New Mexico meetings to assist with translation.

Background

Holtec submitted its application on March 30, 2017.  The NRC formally docketed the application on February 28, 2018.  On March 30, 2018, NRC published a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on the scope of its environmental review.  (See 83 Federal Register 13,802 dated March 30, 2018.)  Comments will be accepted through May 29, 2018.  On April 6, 2018, NRC published a separate notice about the public meetings.  (See 83 Federal Register 14,897 dated April 6, 2018.)

For additional information, please contact , please contact Erika Grandrimo of Holtec at (856) 797-0090 ext. 3920 or at e.grandrimo@holtec.com or David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.