On January 15, 2019, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff held a public meeting in Plymouth, Massachusetts to discuss a decommissioning roadmap report for the Pilgrim nuclear power plant. Attendees were able to provide comments at the meeting.
Entergy, which owns the single-reactor Plymouth facility, submitted its Pilgrim Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) to the NRC on November 16, 2018. Among other details, it describes the company’s plans to put the plant into SAFSTOR, or long-term storage, prior to beginning dismantlement work.
Holtec, which plans to acquire Pilgrim and decommission it in an expedited manner, has submitted its own PSDAR for the plant. Since an application to transfer the plant’s NRC license from Entergy to Holtec remains under review, the report is currently being handled as a supplement to the application.
Pilgrim is scheduled to permanently cease operations by June 1, 2019.
On November 16, 2018, Entergy Corporation and Holtec International, through their affiliates, asked the 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.
The 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’s technical expertise, innovations and industry-leading experience in spent fuel management and decommissioning enable it to do the work in a more cost-effective manner, with uncompromised safety and under rigorous NRC oversight,” states the press release. “Over 100 nuclear plants rely on Holtec’s nuclear fuel storage technology, and the company is the world leader in spent nuclear fuel storage technology design and implementation.”
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.”
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.
The Pilgrim PSDAR that was submitted by Entergy is available on the NRC website at https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1832/ML18320A034.pdf. The PSDAR that was submitted by Holtec is also available at https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1832/ML18320A040.pdf. The Federal Register notice regarding the submittal of public comments on the Pilgrim PDSAR is available at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-12-21/pdf/2018-27724.pdf.
For additional information, please contact Diane Screnci at (610) 337-5330 or Neil Sheehan at (610) 337-5331.