Entergy, Holtec seek accelerated license transfer for closing, decommissioning Palisades nuclear plant

Entergy Corp. wants to transfer its federal license for a Michigan nuclear power plant quickly after its shutdown and defueling within two years.

Affiliates of Entergy and decommissioning expert Holtec International jointly submitted a license transfer application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The applications seeks a transfer of the NRC licenses for the Palisades Nuclear Plant to Holtec following its shutdown and permanent defueling in the spring of 2022.

“Holtec’s plan to safely accelerate the Palisades decommissioning schedule by more than four decades provides the potential for site redevelopment much sooner than if Entergy continued to own the facility after shutdown,” said Chris Bakken, Entergy Executive Vice President Nuclear Operations and Chief Nuclear Officer. “The completion of major decommissioning activities on an accelerated timeframe is important to the local community, which could benefit from economic opportunity at the site.”

Holtec’s filings detail its plan to complete the dismantling, decontamination, and remediation of Palisades to NRC standards by 2041, more than 40 years sooner than if Entergy continued to own the facility and selected the maximum 60-year NRC SAFSTOR option for decommissioning. As part of the agreement between the companies, Holtec will provide job opportunities for around 260 of Entergy’s employees who currently work at Palisades. Entergy previously announced a plan to find a position within its company for qualified employees who are willing to relocate. 

 “This key regulatory filing sets in motion a new beginning for Palisades and the local community,” said Holtec’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Kris Singh. “As a proven leader in decommissioning, with a dynamic fleet of projects around the nation and the globe, Palisades’ neighbors and stakeholders are assured a strong and steadfast commitment to safety, precision, and efficiency as our Holtec team decommissions this facility and brings a new economic future to the region.”

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The application also requests approval of the license transfer of Entergy’s already-decommissioned Big Rock Point facility near Charlevoix, Mich., where only an independent spent fuel Storage Installation remains.

Following NRC regulatory approval and transaction close, Holtec will assume ownership of the Palisades site, its nuclear decommissioning trust fund, real property, and used nuclear fuel. It will also assume ownership of the Big Rock Point ISFSI property and used nuclear fuel.

In addition to today’s License Transfer Application, Holtec submitted to the NRC a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report and Decommissioning Cost Estimate, which describe Holtec’s decommissioning plan, schedule, and cost estimate of planned decommissioning activities for Palisades. Holtec also submitted an exemption request to allow the use of the Palisades NDT for spent fuel management and site restoration activities.

Holtec’s schedule calls for the movement of all spent nuclear fuel from the onsite spent fuel pool to dry cask storage on the Palisades ISFSI by 2025. After all spent fuel is safely moved to the ISFSI, major decommissioning work will commence in approximately 2035.

Entergy completed Palisades final refueling in October. The decision was made to close Palisades in 2022 after a power purchase agreement with Michigan utility Consumers Energy fell through several years ago. Palisades, commissioned in 1971, generates about 800 MW of carbon-free electricity at capacity.

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