Indian Point Energy Center’s Sale To Decommissioning Firm Finalized
John Jordan | June 1, 2021
BUCHANAN—The nuclear age in Westchester County and the Hudson Valley officially ended late last month with the sale of the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan by Entergy Corp. to decommissioning firm Holtec International.
On May 28, Entergy announced it had completed the sale of the Indian Point complex to subsidiaries of Camden, NJ-based Holtec International. The final operating unit at the site, Unit 3, was shut down by Entergy on April 30, 2021, after generating electricity for 45 years. Indian Point Unit 2 was shut down in April 2020, while Indian Point Unit 1 was shut down in 1974. Under this asset transfer deal, the site’s ownership and operating licenses have now transferred to Holtec subsidiaries, with Holtec Indian Point, LLC serving as the owner and Holtec Decommissioning International, LLC serving as the license holder and decommissioning operator. Entergy has no residual interest in the IPEC site.
The New York State Public Service Commission approved the Indian Point sale to Holtec on May 19, 2021 after the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the transfer of Indian Point’s licenses to Holtec in November 2020. Entergy and Holtec announced the Indian Point sale in April 2019. After facing staunch opposition from New York State and environmentalists and mounting legal costs in its attempt to relicense Indian Point 2 and 3, Entergy announced plans to shutter the nuclear power plants in January 2017 that blindsided many state and municipal officials, regulators and Westchester County business leaders.
“We thank all our employees at Indian Point for operating a safe, secure and reliable plant for more than 20 years under Entergy’s ownership, and we look forward to many of them continuing on with Entergy at new locations,” said Entergy chairman and CEO Leo Denault. “With our previously announced agreement for the post-shutdown sale of Palisades nuclear power plant in 2022, we remain on track to complete our exit from nuclear power operations in merchant markets.”
In December 2020, Entergy and Holtec International, through their affiliates, jointly submitted a License Transfer Application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requesting approval to transfer the NRC licenses for the Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert, MI to Holtec following its shutdown and permanent defueling in the spring of 2022.
“Protecting public health and safety and the environment is the foundation upon which the Indian Point decommissioning program will be carried out,” said Holtec’s president and CEO Dr. Kris Singh. “The cutting-edge technologies that we have employed at Pilgrim and Oyster Creek to ensure maximum worker and environmental safety and wellbeing of the local communities will be employed at Indian Point to secure the same excellent outcomes that we continue to achieve at other plants in our fleet. We are committed to a continuous engagement with the stakeholders at the local and state levels to ensure a smooth dissemination of information at all times.”
While no financial terms of the transaction were disclosed, Entergy in an SEC filing on May 6, 2021, reported, “The Indian Point transaction is expected to result in a $285 million net loss based on the difference between Entergy’s adjusted net investment in the subsidiaries at closing and the sale price net of agreed adjustments. The primary variables in the ultimate loss that Entergy will incur are the values of the nuclear decommissioning trusts and the asset retirement obligations at closing, the financial results from plant operations until the closing, and the level of any unrealized deferred tax balances at closing.”
Some of the terms agreed to by Entergy and Holtec with the New York State Public Service Commission include:
• Holtec is required to maintain a minimum balance of no less than $400 million in the decommissioning trust fund for 10 years;
• Maintain a minimum balance of no less than $360 million in the decommissioning trust fund at partial site release from the NRC for costs related to waste management and radiological cleanup of the site;
• Require Holtec to return 50% of the money it recovers from the Department of Energy for spent fuel management costs to the decommissioning trust fund;
• Conduct site restoration and remediation under an order on consent with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which will oversee the hazardous materials and residual radiation cleanup at Indian Point, including through the use of an on-site monitor;
• Provide funding towards state and local emergency management and response; and
• Provide financial and project reporting to the state and the public through a website and other channels to ensure transparency regarding project status and costs.
Over the past year, Holtec and Indian Point Entergy Center personnel have been working on an integrated transition plan. Among the first steps in the plan is moving the plant’s used nuclear fuel from its spent fuel pools to “robust transportable canisters” in a structurally impregnable dry storage system designed by Holtec, and dismantling and packaging the highly activated parts from the nuclear reactors in high capacity containers also engineered by Holtec, thereby removing virtually all of the radiation source from the plant’s containment enclosure.
Another critical early undertaking in the IPEC program is to emplace the used fuel in each pool in an optimized wet storage configuration such that the plant’s fuel pools become independent of their cooling systems in the shortest possible time (after their shutdown) to maintain fuel integrity. Holtec’s proprietary pool optimization technology is being employed to achieve this milestone safety metric in less than eight months after the cessation of fission in the reactor, Holtec reported. All of the used nuclear fuel would be placed in HI-STORM dry storage systems in less than 30 months after the plant’s shutdown. Holtec added that it has designed and manufactured “robust, high-capacity transport packages” for shipment of radioactive material to minimize the number of off-site shipments alleviating the transport traffic around the plant.
Completion of Indian Point’s decommissioning will render the 240-acre site fit for commercial/industrial use except for a small parcel of land where the dry storage casks will reside under rigorous security guarded by personnel from Holtec Security International. Holtec hopes to ship the multi-purpose canisters containing the used nuclear fuel to the company’s proposed consolidated interim storage facility called HI-STORE CIS in southeast New Mexico that is undergoing licensing review by the NRC.
Comprehensive Decommissioning International, LLC, a Holtec/SNC Lavalin subsidiary, will serve as a general contractor to perform the decommissioning, demolition and site cleanup services.
The decommissioning project team consists of a blend of HDI and CDI’s decommissioning workers with approximately 300 current Indian Point employees. Through National Labor Agreements with several unions, skilled craft labor from the local union halls near Indian Point and local subcontractors will also support the decommissioning project.