Transfer of Palisades license from Entergy to Holtec challenged

February 26, 2021, 12:48PMNuclear News

Several antinuclear groups and the State of Michigan have filed petitions to intervene in the transfer of the Palisades nuclear power plant license from Entergy to Holtec International for decommissioning following the plant’s permanent shutdown and defueling in the spring of 2022.

NRC grants Duane Arnold emergency planning exemptions

February 22, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News

NextEra Energy will be allowed to revise the emergency preparedness plan for its Duane Arnold nuclear power plant to reflect the plant’s decommissioning status, having been granted exemptions from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s emergency preparedness and planning requirements, the agency announced on February 17. A single-unit boiling water reactor plant located in Palo, Iowa, approximately eight miles northwest of Cedar Rapids, Duane Arnold was shut down in August 2020 after a derecho damaged the plant’s cooling towers.

The NRC regularly issues exemptions from its licensing requirements to nuclear power plants that are transitioning to decommissioning, where the risk of an off-site radiological release is significantly lower, and the types of possible accidents significantly fewer, than at an operating reactor.

Once NextEra implements the exemptions, state and local governments can rely on comprehensive emergency management (“all hazard”) planning for off-site emergency response should an event occur at Duane Arnold. As a result, there will not be a 10-mile emergency planning zone as currently identified in Duane Arnold’s license. The plant will maintain an on-site emergency plan and response capabilities, including the continued notification of state government officials in the event of an emergency declaration.

NRC report updates decommissioning cost guidance

February 8, 2021, 9:12AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has updated its guidance for nuclear power plant owners and operators in estimating the cost of decommissioning their reactors. Licensed power reactor operators are required under NRC regulations to annually adjust the estimated costs (in current year dollars) of decommissioning their plants to ensure that adequate funds are available when needed.

NUREG-1307, Revision 18, Report on Waste Burial Charges: Changes in Decommissioning Waste Disposal Costs at Low-Level Waste Burial Facilities, issued on February 3, explains the formula acceptable to the NRC for determining the minimum decommissioning fund requirements for nuclear power reactor licensees. Specifically, NUREG-1307 provides the adjustment factor and updates the values for the labor, energy, and waste burial escalation factors of the minimum formula.

NRC opens Palisades license proceedings to public comment

February 5, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has opened for public comment the license transfer proceedings for the Palisades nuclear power plant, with the opportunity to request a hearing and petition for leave to intervene. Notice of the open proceedings was published in the February 4 Federal Register. Deadlines are February 24 for requests for a hearing and March 8 for comments.

In December, Entergy Corporation and Holtec International jointly submitted an application to the NRC for approval of the transfer of the licenses for the Palisades nuclear plant–located in Covert, Mich.—to Holtec, following the plant’s permanent shutdown and defueling in the spring of 2022. The application 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.

New York sues NRC over Indian Point decommissioning

January 26, 2021, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions

Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y. Photo: Entergy Nuclear

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on behalf of the State of New York against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the sale of the Indian Point nuclear power plant to subsidiaries of Holtec International for decommissioning.

Filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on January 22, the suit challenges the NRC’s denial of New York’s petition for a hearing regarding the transfer of Indian Point’s licenses from owner Entergy to Holtec, as well as the NRC’s initial approval of the license transfer. The NRC approved the transfer in November 2020 while challenges from the state and other groups were still being adjudicated. The NRC issued its order denying New York’s petition to intervene on January 15.

The transfer of ownership of the plant from Entergy to Holtec is targeted to occur after Indian Point-3 shuts down in April 2021. 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.

U.K., Japan to research remote D&D, fusion systems

January 22, 2021, 6:53AMRadwaste Solutions

The LongOps project will develop innovative robotic technologies. Photo: UKAEA

Britain and Japan have signed a research and technology deployment collaboration to help automate nuclear decommissioning and aspects of fusion energy production. According to the U.K. government, which announced the deal on January 20, the £12 million (about $16.5 million) U.K.–Japanese robotics project, called LongOps, will support the delivery of faster and safer decommissioning at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan and at Sellafield in the United Kingdom, using long-reach robotic arms.

The four-year collaboration on new robotics and automation techniques will also be applied to fusion energy research in the two countries.

Funded equally by U.K. Research and Innovation, the U.K.’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company, the LongOps project will be led by the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) facility.

NRC issues draft decommissioning guidance for comment

December 10, 2020, 1:06PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued the draft report, Consolidated Decommissioning Guidance, Characterization, Survey, and Determination of Radiological Criteria (NUREG-1757, Volume 2, Revision 2), with a request for comments by February 8.

NUREG-1757, which is intended for use by applicants, licensees, and the NRC staff, was last updated in 2006. This latest revision addresses lessons learned and experience gained from the review of license termination plans, decommissioning plans, and final status surveys for licensees undergoing license termination since then.

Notice of the draft NUREG was published in the December 8 Federal Register.

Siphoning D&D lessons from the oil and gas industry

December 10, 2020, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Deepsea Delta oil-drilling platform in the North Sea. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nuclear decommissioning projects can benefit from the lessons learned in the fossil fuel industry, according to a December 8 Reuters Events post that draws heavily from an article published in the ANS magazine Radwaste Solutions.

Reuters reporter Paul Day interviewed the authors of “Tapping Nonnuclear Knowledge,” which appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of RS and examines research being done on cross-sector learning between nuclear and oil and gas decommissioning projects, particularly the mega projects of decommissioning nuclear power plants and offshore oil rigs.

Orano, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power to cooperate on nuclear D&D

December 7, 2020, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

Orano's Alain Vandercruyssen signs a cooperation agreement with KHNP on December 4. Photo: ORANO

With the signing of a cooperation agreement by Orano and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power at KHNP’s headquarters in Gyeongju on December 4, France and South Korea are poised to enhance collaboration in the decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear facilities, particularly in South Korea and Europe.

Orano said that the collaboration will give it access to the expertise of KHNP engineers, as well as to KHNP’s network of providers of nuclear engineering services, particularly in the fields of robotics, process industrialization, and quality.

KHNP, in return, will benefit from Orano’s experience in preparing and carrying out nuclear dismantling, with the company providing technical assistance and supplying skills and training. South Korean engineers will be included in the Orano dismantling and services teams.

NRC approves TMI-2 license transfer to EnergySolutions

December 3, 2020, 11:56AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the license for Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant from FirstEnergy Companies to TMI-2 Solutions, a subsidiary of Utah-based EnergySolutions. The approval, announced on December 2, is effective immediately, and the license will be amended to reflect the new ownership once the sale of TMI-2 is completed.

Indian Point licenses to transfer to Holtec for decommissioning

November 24, 2020, 3:02PMRadwaste Solutions

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

November 17, 2020, 6:56AMRadwaste Solutions

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.

Solving Sellafield’s 4 Ds problem

November 6, 2020, 3:44PMNuclear Newsthe U.K. National Nuclear Laboratory and Sellafield Ltd

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.

NRC denies challenge to Three Mile Island’s emergency plan

October 9, 2020, 12:12PMRadwaste Solutions

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

October 5, 2020, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

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.

Tapping Nonnuclear Knowledge

October 2, 2020, 3:39PMRadwaste SolutionsDiletta Colette Invernizzi, Nick Higginson, Richard Howells, Willem Van Es, and Ian Beadle

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?

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

September 25, 2020, 12:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe

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

September 16, 2020, 9:28AMRadwaste Solutions

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.