Pilgrim Nuclear Plant’s Decommissioning Plans Presented to the Public

PLYMOUTH – A decommissioning roadmap for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station was presented to the public Tuesday night in Plymouth during a Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting.

Entergy and Holtec both presented a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report as the NRC continues to review a license transfer for the plant which would complete a purchase and sale agreement.

Entergy’s plan would put the plant into SAFSTOR, or long-term storage, with a 60 year decommissioning.

“The vast majority of that time the plant would remain dormant,” said Mike Twomey, Entergy’s Vice President of External Affairs.

If the sale is approved, Holtec’s expedited plan, or the DECON alternative, would have decommissioning completed by 2027.

“We would expect the NRC to take action on the sale somewhere between the middle of this year to the end of this year,” Twomey said. “We are hoping to have it wrapped up by the end of 2019.”

The official shutdown day for the plant will be May 31.

“That’s true no matter which way we go with the decommissioning,” Twomey said.

Energy producers need to commit to participating in the market for the next year on June 1.

“We are not in the next market period,” Twomey said. “So we need to be out of the market by the end of the day on May 31.”

Twomey said the decommissioning planning and preliminary work would be the same under both plans for the first 6 to 12 months post shutdown.

“There is really not a huge difference between our plan and the Holtec plan at the very beginning,” Twomey said.

All nuclear fuel needs to be removed from the reactor and initially placed into the spent fuel pool.  That fuel would then be placed into dry cask storage.

“Where you see the differences is a couple years out,” Twomey said. “Entergy’s plan would put the plant into a dormant state and come back and start doing work decades from now. Whereas Holtec would start doing the major decommissioning work right away.”

The companies expect an NRC decision and a finalized sale by the end of 2019.

“It is our view that the transaction meets the requirements that the NRC has used in prior transactions,” Twomey said.

He said he can’t predict how the NRC will handle the transaction.

The NRC approved a similar license transfer and sale of Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant in October to NorthStar. That plant shut down in 2014.

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