Entergy, Holtec Formally Seek NRC Approval For Pilgrim Sale

PLYMOUTH  – The company that wants to purchase the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant from Entergy has formally requested approval for the sale with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Holtec and Entergy jointly filed the request with the NRC on Friday morning.

The companies previously announced their intentions earlier this year.

Holtec plans to complete decommissioning and site restoration decades sooner than if Entergy completed decommissioning.

They jointly filed a license transfer application of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, as well as its Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Fund, to Holtec.

It would become effective after the plant permanently shuts down by June 1, 2019.

“Each company made separate filings to lay out the process that each would use to decommission the facility,” said Entergy spokesman Patrick O’Brien.

According to a statement from Entergy, the companies have asked the NRC to approve the application by May 31, 2019, to facilitate a timely transaction closing by the end of 2019.

“From our perspective, that really benefits the community, the employees and any other interested parties to get that license transfer over and then allow Holtec to move forward with their plan to promptly decommission the site,” O’Brien said.

Holtec’s filings describe the plan of its subsidiary, Holtec Decommissioning International, to complete the dismantling, decontamination, and remediation of Pilgrim to NRC standards within eight years of license transfer, or by the end of 2027, assuming timely regulatory approvals.

Holtec estimates total costs for decommissioning Pilgrim at $1.13 billion.  The balance in Pilgrim’s Decommissioning Trust Fund as of October 31, 2018, was $1.05 billion.

The completion of decommissioning will result in the release of all portions of the site from the current NRC license, with the exception of the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation.

That’s the area where spent nuclear fuel is stored in dry casks until the U.S. Department of Energy transfers the spent fuel offsite.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said that typically, a license transfer review takes about a year.
“During a recent pre-submittal meeting, we informed the firms that while the NRC staff will endeavor to complete its review in the requested timeframe, that will depend upon several factors, including the amount of time it takes them to respond to our requests for additional information on the application; any unanticipated addition of scope to the review; and reviews by NRC advisory committees or hearing-related activities,” Sheehan said in a statement.
“After the NRC staff has completed an initial acceptance review of the proposal, the application will be noticed in the Federal Register, informing the public that there will be a 30-day window to submit comments and a 20-day window to request a hearing,” said Sheehan.
As part of its plan, Holtec expects to move all spent nuclear fuel into dry casks within three years following plant shutdown. 

Additionally, Holtec has a pending application with the NRC for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in New Mexico, which could eventually store spent nuclear fuel from Pilgrim and other U.S. nuclear power plants.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station employs about 600 people 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.

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