Holtec uses patented lift system to speed Indian Point decommissioning

June 20, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The Holtec HI-LIFT at Indian Point-3. (Image: Holtec)

Holtec International has said its patented HI-LIFT crane technology, being installed at the Indian Point-3 nuclear power plant, will speed the defueling of the spent nuclear fuel pool and avoid millions in excess decommissioning costs.

According to Holtec, the system enables nuclear plants to safely load heavy, modern spent fuel casks and canisters despite the insufficient capacity of existing building cranes and the inadequate structural strength of the plant’s load-bearing walls. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently approved the HI-LIFT for Indian Point-3 as a single-failure-proof load handling device, the company said.

Cost savings: Holtec is installing a 100-ton HI-LIFT crane at Indian Point-3, in Buchanan, N.Y., for less than $100 million, the company said. Former plant owner Entergy previously spent more than $60 million to upgrade Indian Point-2’s crane to 110 tons and strengthen the supporting walls, according to Holtec.

HI-LIFT works like a boat davit and transfers the weight of the spent fuel casks to the reactor building’s foundation, bypassing weak regions such as the load-bearing wall. A video of the HI-LIFT in use can be seen here.

Origins: Holtec said the HI-LIFT was first developed and deployed more than a decade ago for the decommissioning of the Humboldt Bay nuclear power plant, near Eureka, Cal. The plant's crane dated to 1947 and the wall structure supporting it was qualified for only 40 tons. Between 2010 and about 2018, Humboldt Bay was completely decontaminated and dismantled after about 20 years in SAFSTOR. A license termination was issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in October 2021 and the site released for unrestricted use. A new license was issued for an on-site storage facility for the spent fuel.

According to Holtec, it is estimated that the decommissioning of Humboldt Bay would have taken at least three years longer had the conventional approach strengthening the load-bearing walls and a new high-capacity bridge crane been used.

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