N.Y. drops its objections to sale of Indian Point in deal with Holtec

April 19, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y.

The State of New York will withdraw its lawsuit against the transfer of Indian Point’s license to Holtec International for decommissioning under a provisional agreement signed on April 14. In exchange, Holtec has agreed to maintain a minimum of $400 million in Indian Point’s decommissioning trust fund for the next 10 years.

Under the joint proposal agreement, negotiated by Entergy, Holtec, the State of New York, and environmental organizations, all parties with pending legal challenges to the license transfer have agreed to drop their opposition to the sale of Indian Point.

In November 2020, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the Indian Point license transfer application filed by Entergy and Holtec a year earlier. The NRC rejected a petition by New York to intervene in the license transfer, and in January the state appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Pending approval by the New York State Public Service Commission, ownership of the Indian Point nuclear power plant is targeted to occur in May, following the shut down of Indian Point-3 at the end of this month. Indian Point-2 permanently ceased operations in April 2020 and Indian Point-1 has been shut down since 1974. The pressurized water reactors are located in Buchanan, N.Y., approximately 24 miles north of New York City.

The details: The agreement is intended to allay New York’s concerns that Indian Point’s approximately $2.4 billion decommissioning trust fund (DTF) will run out before decommissioning is completed. Holtec expects to complete the bulk of decommissioning by 2033 at a cost of around $2.3 billion.

In addition to maintaining a minimum balance of $400 million in the DTF for 10 years following the sale of the plant, Holtec has agreed to the following:

  • Maintaining a minimum balance of $360 million in the DTF at partial site release from the NRC for costs related to waste management and radiological cleanup of the site.
  • Returning 50 percent of the money the company recovers from the Department of Energy for spent fuel management costs to the DTF.
  • Conducting site restoration and remediation under an order on consent with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which will oversee the hazardous materials cleanup at Indian Point, including through the use of an on-site monitor.
  • Providing funds for state and local emergency management and response.
  • Providing financial and project reporting to the state and the public through a website and other channels to ensure transparency regarding project status and costs.

The parties: According to Holtec, the agreement was reached after extensive and intense negotiations among the stakeholders to ensure that each party’s interest was accommodated fairly with the shared goal of getting the site decommissioned in a safe and timely manner.

“We greatly appreciate the professionalism of those with whom we worked at the state and local governments, the NGOs, and other organizations to craft this comprehensive agreement in support of this transaction,” said Pam Cowan, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Holtec Decommissioning International.

Signing the April 14 joint proposal were subsidiaries of Entergy and Holtec, the New York State Office of the Attorney General, the New York State Department of Public Service Staff, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Westchester County, Hendrick Hudson School District, the Town of Cortlandt, the Village of Buchanan, Riverkeeper, and the Public Utility Law Project of New York.

PILOT agreement: As reported by the Rockland/Westchester Journal News of New York, Holtec has separately negotiated a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement that would provide more than $7.5 million to surrounding schools and municipalities after their current agreements expire next year.

According to the report, the local governments and schools would be able to extend the current deal automatically for one year if a new agreement isn’t reached. During that period, the Hendrick Hudson School District would receive $4 million; Westchester County $1.8 million; Buchanan $1.2 million; and the Town of Cortlandt $550,000.

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