Developing Story: Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant to be Sold After 2019 Shutdown

PLYMOUTH – The company that owns the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth will sell the plant, spent fuel, land and decommissioning trust fund to an energy technology company after the upcoming shutdown next year.

A statement from Entergy issued Wednesday said Pilgrim and another plant in Michigan will be sold to Holtec International for what’s described as an “accelerated decommissioning.”

Holtec International is a privately held energy technology company.

The sale, pending regulatory approval, will include the transfer of licenses and spent fuel. Holtec said most of the decommissioning could be complete within 8 years.

Holtec expects to move all of the spent nuclear fuel out of the spent fuel pools and into dry cask storage within approximately three years of the plant’s shutdown.

“Transferring our Pilgrim and Palisades plants to Holtec, with its vast experience and innovative use of technology, will lead to their decommissioning faster than if they were to remain under Entergy’s ownership,” said Entergy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Leo Denault, in a statement.

Holtec and Entergy expect to file a license transfer request with the NRC in the fourth quarter of this year for Pilgrim, with transaction closing targeted by the end of 2019.

“We intend to deploy cutting-edge technologies to carry out the deconstruction of the plant structures with minimal impact on the environment and maximum personnel safety which are our core competencies. As a growing company, we look forward to exploring employment opportunities for Entergy employees dislocated by the plant’s decommissioning,” said Holtec President and CEO Dr. Kris Singh in a statement.

Holtec is finalizing contracts with Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI), a newly-formed U.S.-based joint venture company between Holtec and SNC-Lavalin, to perform the decommissioning, including the demolition and cleanup of the two plants and sites.

The company will transfer all of the used nuclear fuel to its cask systems, which will remain under guard at the sites, monitored during shutdown and decommissioning and subject to the NRC’s oversight, until the U.S. Department of Energy removes it, in accordance with its legal obligations.

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, before a sale of the plant could take place, the companies involved would need to apply to the NRC to transfer the plant’s license.

The agency would review the proposal to ensure the new owner had the technical and financial capabilities to safely decommission the plant and to appropriately manage the spent nuclear fuel until such time that there is a permanent or interim repository able to receive it.

The plan would also need approvals from other agencies, such as the state’s public utilities commission.

“Right now, Entergy is the owner of record. If they wanted to sell the plant to another company, in this case, Holtec, they would submit this application. We would look primarily at whether Holtec has the appropriate qualifications to decommission the plant,” said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station employs about 600 nuclear professionals and generates 680 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 600,000 homes.

Pilgrim began generating electricity in 1972. Entergy purchased the plant in 1999 from Boston Edison.

Holtec has operation centers in Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania in the US, and globally in Brazil, Dubai, India, South Africa, Spain, UK and Ukraine.

By MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com News Director

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