NRC Poised to Approve Indian Point License Transfer to Holtec International

Real Estate In-Depth | November 2020

Indian Point Energy Center, Buchanan, NY

NRC Poised to Approve Indian Point License Transfer to Holtec International

BUCHANAN, NY—The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the license transfer of the Indian Point Energy Center here from Entergy Corp. to Camden, NJ-based decommissioning firm Holtec International.

The full Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to issue an order on Monday (Nov. 23) approving the license transfer to Holtec, which plans to demolish the plant by the end of 2033 in a decommissioning program said to be valued in excess of $2 billion.

Multiple published reports note that the NRC staff also approved Holtec’s request for an exemption to use a portion of $2.1 billion set aside for the plant’s decommissioning to manage spent nuclear fuel housed in dozens of cement-and-steel canisters. Those canisters will remain on the 240-acre property after the shutdown of Indian Point 3 scheduled for April 2021, according to a report in the Journal News. Indian Point 2 was shut down by Entergy in April 2020.

Holtec spokesman Joe Delmar told the Journal News that the company is awaiting the formal decision approving the license transfer from the commission.

“We remain committed to our ongoing efforts to engage officials at the state and local levels as well as other stakeholders, so we can ensure the safe and prompt decommissioning of Indian Point if Holtec becomes the owner,” Delmar said.

The apparent NRC license transfer approval has come despite some objections by New York State lawmakers and environmental groups.

New York State Assemblywoman Sandra Galef prior to the NRC announcement, requested the NRC hold a public meeting before a final decision is rendered in the license transfer proceedings for Indian Point Energy Center.

Assemblywoman Galef in a letter to the NRC, said, “A public meeting to hear constituent concerns about Holtec International and the decommissioning process is necessary because Indian Point is in my constituency’s backyard. We must hear the views of the community members who live here and use these views to impact the decommissioning process, as these community members are the ones who will face the immediate effects of this nuclear closure and decommissioning project.”

Riverkeeper, in a statement, said it was “troubled” by the NRC staff’s recommendation. “Since the NRC has once again neglected its responsibility to properly scrutinize Holtec’s qualifications, Riverkeeper calls upon New York State to step in to fill this gap and ensure the decommissioning of Indian Point is conducted safely, prudently, and in the best interests of New Yorkers.”

Last November, when Entergy and Holtec first applied to the NRC for the Indian Point license transfer, the companies requested it receive approval for their plan by November 2020.

Following regulatory approvals and transaction close, Holtec would assume ownership of the site, the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Funds, real property and used nuclear fuel. Decommissioning activities would then begin using an early engagement strategy.

“This key regulatory filing is an important first step to beginning a new future for Indian Point and the local community,” said Holtec’s President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kris Singh in November 2019. “By beginning decommissioning earlier, Holtec will be able to maintain and create new jobs and work towards releasing the plant site earlier so it can be repurposed generating replacement tax revenue on an earlier schedule.”

“Holtec’s plan to accelerate the decommissioning schedule, which provides the potential for site redevelopment decades sooner than if Entergy continued to own the facility, is good news for the local community,” added Chris Bakken, Entergy Executive Vice President Nuclear Operations and Chief Nuclear Officer. “As part of the agreement between the companies, Holtec will begin the decommissioning process promptly upon taking ownership and will provide job opportunities for more than 300 of our current employees who want to remain in the region and continue to work at the site.”

Holtec estimates decommissioning would be completed in the 2030s. Holtec plans to submit additional required decommissioning-related filings before the end of the year with the NRC, including its Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) and Decommissioning Cost Estimate (DCE), which provide a detailed schedule and cost estimate.