US utility Entergy has agreed to sell the Pilgrim and Palisades nuclear power plants to Holtec International after their closures in 2019 and 2022, respectively. The announcement came just one day after Exelon said it will sell its Oyster Creek plant to Holtec for decommissioning by Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI), a joint venture between Holtec and SNC-Lavalin.

The Palisades plant (Image: Palisades Power)

Under the agreement, Holtec will acquire the Entergy subsidiaries that own the Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts and the Palisades plant in Michigan - Entergy Nuclear Generation Company and Entergy Nuclear Palisades LLC, respectively. The value of the transactions was not disclosed.

The sales include the transfer of the licences, used fuel and funds from the plants' decommissioning trusts, as well as the site of the decommissioned Big Rock Point nuclear power plant in Michigan, where only the independent used fuel storage facility remains. The transactions are subject to conditions to closing, including approvals from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of the licence transfers.

Holtec and Entergy expect to file a licence transfer request with the NRC by the end of this year for Pilgrim, with the transaction targeted for completion by the end of 2019. The licence transfer request for Palisades will take place closer to its planned shutdown in early 2022, with that transaction expected to close by the end of that year.

Assuming timely regulatory approvals, Holtec expects to begin decommissioning the Pilgrim plant in 2020, with all major decommissioning work anticipated to take about eight years to complete. A timetable for the decommissioning of Palisades will be developed closer to its shutdown. For both the Pilgrim and Palisades plants, Holtec expects to remove all used fuel from their storage pools and into dry cask storage within three years of their respective closures.

Pilgrim, a single-unit 680 MWe boiling water reactor, entered service in 1972 and is currently licensed to operate until 2032. Entergy announced in 2016 that Pilgrim will be refuelled for the final time in 2017 and will cease operations on 31 May 2019.

Entergy announced in December 2016 that Palisades, a single-unit 798 MWe pressurised water reactor, would close in 2018. However, last September the company said the plant will continue operating until an existing power purchase agreement with Consumers Energy expires in the spring of 2022.

Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault said, "Transferring our Pilgrim and Palisades plants to Holtec, with its vast experience and innovative use of technology, will lead to their decommissioning faster than if they were to remain under Entergy's ownership. Earlier decommissioning benefits the surrounding communities."

Holtec President and CEO Kris Singh added, "We look forward to engaging with representatives of the Pilgrim and Palisades communities and with the appropriate state and local government officials in Massachusetts and Michigan about site restoration standards and effective coordination during the decommissioning process. We intend to deploy cutting-edge technologies to carry out the deconstruction of the plant structures with minimal impact on the environment and maximum personnel safety which are our core competencies."

Yesterday, Holtec announced that it is to purchase the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey from Exelon. That purchase is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approvals. As the site's owner, Holtec will manage all site decommissioning and restoration activities at the plant, which is due to shut down later this year.

The decommissioning work at Pilgrim, Palisades and Oyster Creek will be carried out by CDI, a joint venture created last month by Holtec and SNC-Lavalin to the accelerate decommissioning of retired nuclear power plants.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 01 August 2018
Original article: