NRC to Hold Meeting to Discuss Transfer of Pilgrim License


PLYMOUTH – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will meet next week with the owner of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station and the company planning to purchase the soon to be shut down facility.

Current owner Entergy and Holtec International have a sales agreement in place that includes the transfer of the licenses, spent fuel, and Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts after the plant’s reactor is shut down next spring.

NRC Spokesman Neil Sheehan said the purpose of the meeting is to find out what the two companies have planned.

“We want to learn more about what exactly they are proposing to do, what their timelines are for submitting various required documents, and what kind of schedule they are looking for for a decision from the NRC staff,” Sheehan said.

The pre-submittal meeting is Tuesday, September 25 in Rockville, Maryland.

The trend of companies purchasing plants to complete the decommissioning process on an accelerated basis, along with being responsible for the spent fuel, is relatively new, according to the NRC.

“We want to make sure that whoever is the owner of record of the plant has the safety capabilities to properly carry out the decommissioning and that they have the financial wherewithal to be able to perform that work effectively,” Sheehan said.

Pilgrim has a decommissioning trust fund or around $1 billion that has already been set aside for the work, which would be part of the agreement with Holtec.

“Nevertheless, we want to make sure that when this company undertakes this very complicated task that they are fully able to carry it out to completion,” Sheehan said.

Holtec has been involved in the dry cask storage of spent nuclear fuel for many years, but being responsible for the decommissioning of plants is something new for the company.

“We want to learn more about why it believes it is qualified to do that work,” Sheehan said.

Nuclear license transfer applications usually take about a year to be reviewed by the NRC once submitted.

Once a request is submitted, the NRC will look at it initially to make sure it was completely correctly before embarking on a formal review.

“We will ask questions along the way and it really just depends on how satisfied we are with the answers as to when we can render a decision,” Sheehan said.

The reactor would no longer be in operation at that point but license would still call for Holtec to meet all proper NRC requirements and obligations.

“It’s a different type of license but it still carries significant responsibilities,” Sheehan said.

The sales agreement between the companies would also include the transfer of the licenses, spent fuel, and Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts, as well as the site of the decommissioned Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant near, Charlevoix, Michigan, where only the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation remains.

Holtec, which will also purchase Entergy’s Palisades Nuclear Plant in Michigan, expects to move all of the spent nuclear fuel out of the spent fuel pools and into dry cask storage within three years of the plants’ respective shutdowns.

Holtec expects the decommissioning of the Pilgrim plant to take about eight years.

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