Holtec outlines fleet model as decommissioning extends to six US reactors

Indian Point will join Oyster Creek, Pilgrim and Palisades in four-site portfolio

Entergy will shut down Indian Point Units 2 and 3 in April 2020 and 2021.

Holtec says that decommissioning work at the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York State would be based on a fleet model, as the company extends its U.S. commercial decommissioning portfolio to six reactors at four sites.

Holtec also claims work at Indian Point will be completed decades sooner than if the site were to remain under Entergy’s ownership – a familiar claim in the increasingly competitive decommissioning sector.

The 2 GW plant has two operational reactors which are due to close in April 2020 and April 2021, and it is then that the sale to Holtec would be completed. The sale includes the transfer of licenses, spent fuel, decommissioning liabilities, and nuclear decommissioning trust funds for the three units.

The cumulative amount from the Indian Point 1 (IP1), IP2, and IP3 trust funds equals around $1.85 billion (as of 12/31/2018). The Site-Specific Decommissioning Cost Estimate (DCE) is expected to be filed before the end of 2019.

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

Holtec and Entergy will likely initiate the regulatory approval processes in the fourth quarter of 2019, with transaction closing targeted for the third quarter of 2021.

“Based on analysis that has been completed to date, Holtec has determined that it could decommission Indian Point decades sooner than would occur if Entergy selected the maximum SAFSTOR option under NRC regulations,” said Jeremy Parriott,
Vice President, Communications, CDI.

“Holtec expects to include a more detailed timetable about its anticipated start and completion of decommissioning in regulatory filings, which will likely be made in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“Drawing upon its affiliates’ (Holtec Decommissioning International and CDI) expertise in ensuring personnel safety and its pioneering decommissioning technologies, Holtec expects to accrue tangible benefits to the local community by returning the site (excluding the site’s heavily shielded storage casks on the storage pad safely storing the spent nuclear fuel) to productive use much sooner would occur under Entergy’s ownership.”

Table focuses on the ongoing DECON projects and the reactors set to come offline in the coming years.
Source: Nuclear Energy Insider. Data source: company announcements.

Holtec has agreements in place 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).

“Holtec has been planning for the decommissioning of Oyster Creek, Pilgrim and Palisades for the last year,” says Parriott.

“Drawing upon that experience and the experience of our supply chain, we believe the fundamentals of decommissioning the site remain.

“From a technical standpoint, the size of Indian Point and the proximity of the three units is different than other sites in our decommissioning fleet. Decommissioning a multi-unit site is something that our CDI team and our industry has experienced at other sites in the UK and US.”

Economies of scale

With six reactors at four sites to consider, there are obvious challenges associated with having multiple decommissioning projects, including supply of specialist labor.

“To ensure that HDI’s management and technical support organization will have sufficient resources (i.e. corporate structure, management and technical support organization staff capacities, internal procedures, etc.) to conduct licensed activities at multiple sites, HDI will be using a fleet model to manage and conduct the decommissioning of its shutdown nuclear power plants,” explains Parriott.

“In summary, this fleet model provides for efficiency by establishing standard processes, procedures, and approaches at the corporate level and at the decommissioning sites, similar to the model used by many operating plant fleets."

Each of HDI's decommissioning sites will have dedicated leadership reporting to the same HDI corporate executive team and sufficient technical support from the CDI site organizations consisting of experienced incumbents and supplemented as needed by additional Holtec and SNC-Lavalin resources.

“Note also that the scope of HDI’s licensed responsibilities at each site, while just as important, will be much smaller in scope than at an operating site and will primarily be maintaining the facility in a safe condition (including the storage, control and maintenance of the spent nuclear fuel), possessing and disposing of radioactive material, decommissioning and decontaminating the site, and maintaining the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) until the spent nuclear fuel is removed from the site and the ISFSI can be decommissioned,” added Parriott.

Workforce benefits

Current employees at Indian Point may also be adopted into the decommissioning organization, which offers benefits to both the project and the local community.

“With the right mentoring, training and opportunity for future growth, we believe that adopting site personnel is an advantage for not only the project, but it lessens the initial economic impact in the region,” says Parriott.

“The onsite organizations will include incumbent plant staff who will be retained at license transfer. Additional support during multiple decommissioning projects will be provided by the CDI corporate organization, which because of its affiliation with both SNC-Lavalin and Holtec International, has easy access to technical and project resources as needed if issues arise.”

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.