Indian Point licenses to transfer to Holtec for decommissioning

Indian Point’s licenses will transfer to Holtec for decommissioning after the plant shuts down in 2021. Photo: Entergy Nuclear

The transfer of the Indian Point nuclear power plant licenses from Entergy to Holtec International, as owner, and Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI), as decommissioning operator, has been approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The license transfers follow the transfer of the licenses of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant from Exelon and the Pilgrim plant from Entergy to Holtec in mid-2019. As with the Oyster Creek and Pilgrim plants, Holtec and HDI intend to expedite the decommissioning and dismantling of Indian Point.

Indian Point’s three pressurized water reactors are located in Buchanan, N.Y., approximately 24 miles north of New York City. Units 1 and 2 have been permanently shut down, in 1974 and 2020, respectively, and Unit 3 is scheduled to be shut down in April 2021. The license transfer also includes the plant’s independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI).

NRC passes on Pilgrim Watch’s license petition

The Pilgrim nuclear power plant was shut down in May 2019. Photo: Entergy Energy

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has denied a request by the antinuclear group Pilgrim Watch for a hearing in the transfer of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant’s license from Entergy to a subsidiary of Holtec International for decommissioning. The NRC commissioners issued the order denying Pilgrim Watch’s petition to intervene and request a hearing on November 12.

Pilgrim Watch submitted its petition against the transfer of Pilgrim’s license from Entergy to Holtec Decommissioning International in February 2019. The NRC staff, however, approved the transfer in August 2019, while the petition was still under review. NRC regulations allow staff to approve a license transfer under the condition that the commissioners may later move to “rescind, modify, or condition the approved transfer based on the outcome of any post-effectiveness hearing on the license transfer application.”

A separate petition against the license transfer submitted by the state of Massachusetts was withdrawn in June, following a settlement agreement between the state and Holtec.

Pilgrim permanently ceased operations in May 2019. Holtec plans to decommission the plant (with the exception of the independent spent fuel storage installation) on an eight-year schedule to permit partial site release by the NRC.

Feature Article

Solving Sellafield’s 4 Ds problem

The U.K. National Nuclear Laboratory’s Colin Fairbairn (left) and Ben Smith (in pre-COVID days) work on the Box Encapsulation Plant (BEP) robots project at the NNL’s facility in Workington, Cumbria, U.K. Photos: UKNNL

Though robotics solutions have been used across many industries, for many purposes, Sellafield Ltd has begun to bring robotics to the U.K. nuclear industry to conduct tasks in extreme environments. The Sellafield site, in Cumbria, United Kingdom, contains historic waste storage silos and storage ponds, some of which started operations in the 1950s and contain some of the most hazardous intermediate--level waste in the United Kingdom. There is a pressing need to decommission these aging facilities as soon as possible, as some of them pose significant radiation risk.

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NRC denies challenge to Three Mile Island’s emergency plan

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected a petition by Three Mile Island Alert (TMIA) challenging Exelon’s request to revise its site emergency plan for the closed Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. Exelon submitted a request to the NRC to amend its TMI-1 license to reflect the reduced risks of the defueled reactor, which was permanently shut down in September 2019.

In an order issued on October 8, the NRC commissioners upheld a decision by an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denying TMIA’s petition to intervene and request a hearing in the license amendment request. That decision, issued on January 23, 2020, found that the antinuclear group had not established standing in the case and that its contentions were inadmissible.

Crystal River-3 operating license transferred to decommissioning company

The Crystal River-3 nuclear power plant

Duke Energy and Accelerated Decommissioning Partners (ADP) on October 1 announced the completion of a transaction to begin decontaminating and dismantling the Crystal River-3 nuclear power plant this year instead of in 2067. ADP, a joint venture of NorthStar Group Services and Orano USA formed in 2017, was chosen by Duke Energy in 2019 to complete the decommissioning of the pressurized water reactor by 2027—nearly 50 years sooner than originally planned.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the transfer of Crystal River’s operating license from Duke Energy to ADP on April 1, and the Florida Public Service Commission unanimously approved the transaction on August 18. Duke Energy permanently ceased operations at Crystal River-3, in Citrus County, Fla., in 2013, initially placing the reactor in safe storage (SAFSTOR), whereby the decommissioning work would begin in 2067 and end by 2074.

Feature Article

Tapping Nonnuclear Knowledge

The Deepsea Delta oil-drilling platform in the North Sea. The dismantling of such large oil and gas structures may offer lessons that can be applied to nuclear decommissioning.

Within the energy sector, the management of projects and megaprojects has historically focused on the planning and delivery of the construction of infrastructure [1–3]. Therefore, policies are more oriented to support the construction of infrastructure rather than its decommissioning. Globally, however, a number of facilities have reached or will soon reach their end of life and need to be decommissioned.

These facilities span the energy sector, including nuclear power plants, oil and gas rigs, mines, dams, etc., whose decommissioning present unprecedented technical and socioeconomic challenges [4–7]. Moreover, the cost of decommissioning and waste management of this array of infrastructure is estimated to reach hundreds of billions of dollars and, for most of these projects, keeps increasing, with limited cross-sectorial knowledge-transfer to mitigate the spiraling increase of these figures.

Cross-sectorial knowledge-transfer is one way to tackle this matter and improve the planning and delivery of decommissioning projects. The aim of our research has been to build a roadmap that is designed to promote the sharing of good practices between projects both within the same industry and across different industrial sectors, focusing specifically on major decommissioning and waste-management challenges.

To reach this aim, our research leverages on the experience of senior industry practitioners and their involvement in the decommissioning and waste management of infrastructure in different sectors. More specifically, this research addresses the following questions:

To what extent can lessons learned be transferred across industrial sectors?

What are the challenges that hinder successful cross-sectorial knowledge-transfer?

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A last look at Fort Belvoir’s SM-1 reactor

A series of photos published by the Washingtonian on September 22 capture rarely seen images of Fort Belvoir’s SM-1 reactor, the U.S. Army’s first nuclear reactor and the first facility in the United States to provide nuclear-generated power to the commercial grid for a sustained period. These images may be some of the last photos of SM-1, as crews are set to begin decommissioning and dismantling the nuclear facility early next year.

Cost of Magnox D&D has increased by up to 45 percent

The U.K.’s Bradwell Magnox site after being placed in “care and maintenance."

The National Audit Office (NAO) of the United Kingdom reported on September 11 that the total cost of the work needed to put the country’s Magnox nuclear sites into “care and maintenance” has increased by up to an estimated £2.7 billion (about $3.5 billion) since the office’s last estimate in 2017. The NAO, which scrutinizes U.K. public spending, released its findings in a report examining the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) management of a renegotiated decontamination and decommissioning contract with Cavendish Fluor Partnership.

UK reactor desk to get a second act in the film industry

The inspection desk in use at Sizewell A.

A piece of British nuclear history may be coming to a movie theatre (or streaming service) near you. The United Kingdom’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) sold, at auction, a reactor in-core inspection desk to an Oxford-based film studio known to have been involved with productions such as World War Z, Iron Man 2, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The inspection desk, which was used to remotely check conditions deep inside the gas-cooled reactors at Sizewell A nuclear power plant in Suffolk, England, received a high bid of £10,200 (about $13,000), according to a September 7 press notice from Magnox Ltd., the NDA company responsible for the cleanup of the U.K.’s former Magnox reactors. The desk was last used in 2005, just before the site stopped generating electricity.

Historic Fort Belvoir SM-1 reactor to be decommissioned

Aerial view of the SM-1 nuclear power plant at Fort Belvoir in the 1960s. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract for the final decommissioning, dismantling, and disposal of the facility.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on August 28 that it has awarded a contract worth about $68 million to the joint venture APTIM AECOM Decommissioning, of Alexandria, Va., for the decommissioning, dismantling, and disposal of the deactivated SM-1 nuclear power plant.

SM-1, located at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Va., was the U.S. Army’s first nuclear reactor and the first facility in the United States to provide nuclear-generated power for a sustained period to the commercial grid.

Decommissioning crews are expected to begin mobilizing in early 2021, and the work is anticipated to take about five years to complete, according to the USACE.

Florida PSC clears way for accelerated Crystal River-3 D&D

Crystal River-3 as it is now and how Duke Energy envisions the site will look by 2027.

The Florida Public Service Commission voted unanimously on August 18 to approve Duke Energy Florida’s plan to accelerate the decontamination and decommissioning of its Crystal River-3 nuclear power plant. The commission vote marks the final regulatory approval needed to finalize, in October, Duke Energy’s contract with Accelerated Decommissioning Partners (ADP). According to Duke Energy, ADP will complete the decommissioning by 2027, rather than the 2074 date that was originally announced.

Duke Energy permanently ceased operations at Crystal River-3 in 2013 and, in June 2019, the company applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to transfer the reactor’s license to ADP, a joint venture of NorthStar Group Services and Orano Decommissioning Holdings. The NRC approved the license transfer in April. NorthStar will also be contracted to demolish the permanently shut down coal-fired Crystal River-1 and -2.

More from UWC 2020: Round 2

This year’s Utility Working Conference Virtual Summit, held on August 11, had a dynamic opening plenary and a packed roster of informative sessions. Following are recaps of some of the 2:00 p.m. (EDT) sessions that took place.

Don't miss Newswire's coverage of the opening plenary and the sessions at 12:00 pm.

More from UWC 2020

This year’s Utility Working Conference, held on August 11, had a dynamic opening plenary and a packed roster of informative sessions. Following are recaps of some of the 12:00 p.m. (EDT) sessions that took place.

You can read about the UWC's opening plenary here.

Look for more meeting recaps later today.

NRC recommends local advisory boards for decommissioning

Based on insights gained from public meetings and webinars, as well as feedback from a 2019 questionnaire, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is recommending that community advisory boards be formed to foster communication between local communities and licensees of nuclear power plants undergoing decommissioning. The recommendation comes in a report the NRC submitted to Congress on July 1 identifying best practices for establishing local community advisory boards, also known as community engagement panels, following the shutdown of nuclear power reactors.

NextEra sets Duane Arnold D&D at $1 billion

Duane Arnold is to shut down in October. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/AsNuke

NextEra Energy is estimating that it will cost just over $1 billion to decommission its Duane Arnold Energy Center over a period of 60 years, including spent fuel management and site restoration costs, according to a post-shutdown decommissioning activities report (PSDAR) and a decommissioning cost estimate the company submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in April. The NRC, with publication in the June 19 Federal Register, is requesting comments on the Duane Arnold PSDAR until October 19.

State drops objections to Pilgrim’s license transfer

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced on June 17 that the state has agreed to withdraw its petitions with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission against the transfer of Pilgrim’s license to Holtec International for decommissioning. The settlement agreement, signed between Massachusetts and Holtec subsidiaries Holtec Pilgrim and Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI), also resolves two lawsuits the state filed to challenge the NRC’s approval of the license transfer application as well as several administrative challenges Holtec filed to contest conditions in the January 2020 state water permit for the plant.

In return, Holtec has agreed to provide additional decommissioning trust fund obligations along with stricter radiological cleanup limits and additional site monitoring and oversight.

Pennsylvania contesting Three Mile Island Unit 2 license transfer

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is intervening in the proceeding for FirstEnergy Corporation’s application to transfer the license for Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant to an EnergySolutions subsidiary for decommissioning. The Pennsylvania DEP filed its petition to intervene in the transfer of TMI-2’s possession only license, along with a request to extend the time to file a request for a hearing, to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Decommissioning effort delayed for two Fukushima Daiichi buildings

Decommissioning work in parts of the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan has been delayed after engineers discovered that sandbags placed in the basements of buildings near Units 1 and 3 were found to contain excessive radiation levels. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) operates the plant and is in charge of the decommissioning efforts following the accident caused by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.