November 26, 2019 By Rick Pezzullo
Entergy Corporation and Holtec International, through their affiliates, announced last week they had jointly filed a License Transfer Application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, requesting approval for the transfer of the NRC licenses for Indian Point to Holtec after the last unit in Buchanan permanently shuts down by April 30, 2021.
Holtec plans to initiate decommissioning at Indian Point, following regulatory approvals and transaction close, as much as 40 years sooner than if Entergy continued to own the units.
“Holtec’s plan to accelerate the decommissioning schedule provides the potential for site redevelopment decades sooner than if Entergy continued to own the facility, which is good news for the local community,” said Chris Bakken, Entergy Executive Vice President Nuclear Operations and Chief Nuclear Officer. “Holtec plans to begin the decommissioning process promptly upon taking ownership, and as part of the agreement between the companies, will provide job opportunities for more than 300 of our current employees who want to remain in the region and continue to work at the site.”
The companies asked the NRC to approve the License Transfer Application by November 2020 to facilitate a timely transaction closing targeted for May 2021, which will benefit the community, employees and other interested stakeholders.
“This key regulatory filing is an important first step to beginning a new future for Indian Point and the local community,” said Holtec’s President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kris Singh. “By beginning decommissioning earlier, Holtec will be able to maintain and create new jobs and work towards releasing the plant site earlier so it can be repurposed and generate replacement tax revenue on an earlier schedule.”
In January 2017, Entergy, which purchased the Indian Point nuclear power plants more than 16 years ago, announced, to the complete surprise of local leaders, its plan for the early and orderly shutdown of Indian Point by April 30, 2021 as part of a settlement with New York State and Riverkeeper.
Holtec’s plan for decommissioning will result in the release for re-use of portions of the site in the 2030s, with the exception of the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation – the area where spent nuclear fuel is safely stored in dry casks until the U.S. Department of Energy transfers the spent fuel offsite. As part of its plan, Holtec expects to move all of the Indian Point spent nuclear fuel into dry casks within about three years following facility shutdown in 2021.
Holtec has a pending application with the NRC for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in New Mexico, which could eventually store spent nuclear fuel from Indian Point and other U.S. nuclear power plants.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said he and federal representatives are demanding answers on what exactly Holtec has planned for the site.
“In Westchester, we have residents who rightfully demand clear-eyed answers as to what the next steps Holtec have for the plant in our backyard. Further, we have a workforce already here with the expertise – and on the job experience – needed to safely work on this nuclear power plant,” Latimer stated. “The decommissioning process must not be taken lightly nor seen as strictly for profit. I am concerned about how Holtec’s plans will impact both the on-site, knowledgeable workforce and efforts to ensure that the cleanup is undertaken while abiding by the highest environmental standards.”
In addition to the federal filing, Entergy and Holtec filed a petition with the New York Public Service Commission requesting a ruling disclaiming PSC jurisdiction or abstaining from review of the proposed transaction, or, in the alternative, an order approving the proposed transaction.