Entergy to sell Indian Point to Holtec upon closure; GFP files for Canada’s first SMR project licence

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Entergy to sell New York’s Indian Point to Holtec

Entergy is to sell its 2 GW Indian Point nuclear plant in New York State to Holtec for decommissioning when the two operational reactors at the site close in April 2020 and April 2021, the companies said in a joint statement April 16.

Indian point consists of three reactors. Unit 1 is shut down and Units 2 and 3 remain operational. In 2017, Entergy announced it would close the Indian Point reactors due to low wholesale prices and increased operating costs.

The sale to Holtec will be effective after Unit 3 has been shut down in 2021 and permanently defueled. The sale includes the transfer of licenses, spent fuel, decommissioning liabilities, and nuclear decommissioning trust funds for the three units.

The sale would bring Holtec's U.S. commercial decommissioning portfolio to six reactors at four sites.

Holtec has already signed agreements to purchase upon closure Entergy's 688 MW Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts, its 811 MW Palisades plant in Michigan, and Exelon’s 636 MW Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey. Holtec will also take control of Entergy's decommissioned Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant site which still hosts an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI).

Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI), a new joint venture between Holtec and Canada's SNC-Lavalin, will perform the decommissioning work at all of the sites.

"The sale of Indian Point to Holtec is expected to result in the completion of decommissioning decades sooner than if the site were to remain under Entergy's ownership," Leo Denault, Entergy Chairman and CEO, said.

           US nuclear plants to close in 2018-2025 

Source: EIA, September 2018.

Holtec plans to submit the Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) and Site-Specific Decommissioning Cost Estimate (DCE) for Indian Point to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The sale transaction requires approval from the NRC, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Entergy and Holtec aim to close the transaction in the third quarter of 2021.

Exelon confirms Three Mile Island to enter SAFSTOR shutdown

U.S. operator Exelon has formally notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it plans to decommission its 852 MW Three Mile Island (TMI) plant in Pennsylvania under the deferred SAFSTOR process.

Exelon plans to close the TMI plant in September 2019 unless the government implements new policies to support the plant. Low wholesale prices are continuing to pressure nuclear margins and New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut have all introduced support mechanisms.

On April 5, Exelon filed the Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) for the TMI plant to the NRC.

Under the SAFSTOR plan, spent fuel will be transitioned into the spent fuel pool and then moved to dry cask storage by the end of 2022, Exelon said. On-site staffing numbers will fall from 675 employees in 2017 to 50 full-time employees in 2022. The dismantling of large structures, including the station's cooling towers, would start in 2074, it said.

"Today’s decommissioning report filing is required by the NRC as part of the process to shut down the plant; however, the plant will remain operating if a policy solution is enacted," Exelon said.

US licence approval supports faster spent fuel transfer

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved Orano's NUHOMS dry storage canisters for the transport of higher temperature nuclear fuel, potentially accelerating the transfer of spent fuel for shut down reactors, Orano (formerly Areva) said in a statement April 9.

A new license amendment granted by the NRC allows Orano to use the canisters to store nuclear fuel with higher decay heat and cooling times as short as two years, the company said.

The reduced cooling time gives operators greater flexibility for transferring used nuclear fuel from storage pools to dry storage pads at operating and shutdown reactor sites.

"The most significant advantage is realized by reactor sites scheduled to permanently shut down, which can now advance the fuel’s pool-to-pad transfer years sooner," Orano said.

"Completing this milestone earlier reduces site emergency planning requirements and costs, while enabling the site to accelerate plant decommissioning and achieve partial license termination," it said.

The license amendment also allows the canisters to store and transport used nuclear fuel assemblies with increased burnup levels, rod and assembly damage and higher enrichment content, as well as additional advanced cladding materials, and new fuel assembly designs.

In 2017, Areva and U.S. demolition specialists Northstar created a new joint company, Accelerated Decommissioning Partners (ADP), to provide a "one-stop" final decommissioning solution which would acquire the complete and permanent ownership of decommissioning assets, including spent fuel.

ADP would introduce technological, regulatory and financial efficiencies in the decommissioning process and could potentially complete the dismantling and decontamination (D&D) of U.S. nuclear plants within five years of shutdown, Sam Shakir, CEO of Orano USA and former CEO of Areva Nuclear Materials, told Nuclear Energy Insider in 2017.

Global First Power files Canada's first SMR project license application

Ontario's Global First Power (GFP) has submitted Canada's first small modular reactor (SMR) project license application to build a plant at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) Chalk River site, GFP announced April 1.

GFP has applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a License to Prepare Site for a potential Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) project, the company said.

GFP is developing a 5 MWe high-temperature gas-cooled reactor designed by U.S. group Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC).

In February, GFP became the first SMR developer to advance to the third stage of Canada's selection process to build a full-scale demonstration plant.

CNL aims to host at least one demonstration plant on site by 2026. In June 2018, four SMR developers, including Global First Power, Terrestrial Energy and Starcore Nuclear, entered into CNL's design selection process.

GFP has progressed through the prequalification and due diligence stages of CNL's selection process and can now proceed with stage 3, which involves non-exclusive negotiations on land arrangements, project risk management, and contractual terms, CNL said in February.

To gain a License to Prepare Site, developers must demonstrate the suitability of the site for construction and operations, including land clearing and building services requirements, and consult with a range of stakeholders including public associations.

Spanish engineering group IDOM invests in Moltex SMR

SMR developer Moltex Energy has secured a "multi-million dollar" investment from Spanish engineering group IDOM to develop its molten salt SMR design, the company announced April 3.

Moltex will use the investment to accelerate the progress of its Stable Salt Reactor (SSR) through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) pre-licensing vendor design review (VDR) and expand its office in New Brunswick, the developer said.

Last year, the government of New Brunswick partnered with Moltex and Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC) in a new research cluster, aiming to build commercial demonstration plants by 2030.

New Brunswick will provide $10 million to the program, while Moltex and ARC will each provide $5 million and set up offices in Saint John in the Bay of Fundy.

IDOM will work closely with Moltex in Canada and Spain, focusing on mechanical engineering, thermal hydraulics and molten salt systems, Moltex said.

"IDOM’s extensive experience in the design of molten salt facilities for the Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) industry will help Moltex take a massive step towards the construction of the first of a kind Stable Salt Reactor (SSR)," it said.

"This investment, along with the funding from the Government of New Brunswick, sets us firmly on the road to getting the first plants operating,” Ian Scott, founder of Moltex Energy, said.

"Our next challenge is to do the same in the UK," he said.

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