Palisades license transfer request submitted to NRC

January 5, 2021, 7:03AMRadwaste Solutions

The Palisades nuclear plant will be permanently retired in the spring of next year. Photo: Entergy Nuclear

Entergy Corporation and Holtec International have jointly submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for approval of the transfer of the licenses for the Palisades nuclear plant, in Covert, Mich., to Holtec, following the plant’s permanent shutdown and defueling in the spring of 2022.

The application, dated December 23, also requests approval of the license transfer of Entergy’s decommissioned Big Rock Point facility near Charlevoix, Mich., where only the independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) remains.

The plan: Holtec aims to complete the dismantling, decontamination, and remediation of Palisades by 2041, more than 40 years sooner than if Entergy had decided to continue its ownership of the facility and had chosen the NRC’s 60-year SAFSTOR option for decommissioning, according to the companies. All of the fuel in the plant’s spent fuel pool is to be moved into dry cask storage at the Palisades ISFSI within three years of shutdown, with major decommissioning work beginning around 2035.

As part of the license transfer, Holtec subsidiary Holtec Decommissioning International will be the licensed operator, providing licensee oversight of the decommissioning work, and will have responsibility for managing the decommissioning trust fund. Comprehensive Decommissioning International, a joint venture company of Holtec and SNC-Lavalin, is slated to serve as the general contractor responsible for the entire range of decommissioning activities, including demolition and site cleanup.

In addition, as part of the agreement between the companies, Holtec has promised job opportunities for about 260 Entergy employees who currently work at Palisades. Entergy had previously announced a plan to find positions within its company for qualified employees who are willing to relocate.

Palisades pals: “Holtec’s plan to safely accelerate the Palisades decommissioning schedule by more than four decades provides the potential for site redevelopment much sooner than if Entergy continued to own the facility after shutdown,” said Chris Bakken, Entergy’s executive vice president of nuclear operations and chief nuclear officer. “The completion of major decommissioning activities on an accelerated time frame is important to the local community, which could benefit from economic opportunity at the site.”

Kris Singh, Holtec’s president and chief executive officer, commented, “This key regulatory filing sets in motion a new beginning for Palisades and the local community.” Singh added that Holtec, as a proven leader in decommissioning and with a fleet of projects around the United States and the world, would assure Palisades’ neighbors and stakeholders of its “strong and steadfast commitment to safety, precision, and efficiency as our Holtec team decommissions this facility and brings a new economic future to the region.”

Background: In December 2016, Entergy announced that it would retire Palisades in October 2018, in keeping with its strategy of exiting the merchant nuclear power business. In September 2017, however, the company said that it planned to keep Palisades in operation until the spring of 2022 under its power purchase agreement (PPA) with Consumers Energy, due to an order by the Michigan Public Service Commission granting Consumers Energy the recovery of only $136.6 million of the $172 million it had requested for a buyout of the PPA.

Entergy agreed in August 2018 to sell Palisades to a Holtec subsidiary for accelerated decommissioning after plant shutdown and defueling.

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