RadWaste Monitor Vol. 17 No. 08
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February 23, 2024

Holtec submits NRC license amendment request key to Palisades restart

By Dan Leone

Holtec International has filed for federal relief from what the Jupiter, Fla., company says is the biggest regulatory hurdle to restarting the Palisades Nuclear Plant in Michigan.

Pending a big federal loan and the replacement of some major hardware including a new steam generator, Holtec plans to be ready to restart Palisades “in the third quarter of 2025,” according to the license amendment request posted online Tuesday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and dated Feb. 9.

The document, which runs 46 pages including a cover letter and appendices, outlines Holtec’s plan for the NRC to reverse a modification to the company’s Palisades operating license that essentially restricts activities at the plant to decommissioning.

Holtec “requests approval of the proposed LAR [license amendment request] by March 15, 2025, and that the proposed amendment become effective upon docketing the notification of transition to power operations letter, with a 30-day implementation period,” reads the company’s application.

NRC regulations forbid the refueling of plants that have shut down, defueled their reactors, and transitioned to decommissioning. Holtec has proposed getting around this requirement by essentially rolling the text of its license back to something similar to what former plant owner Entergy used to allow for the refueling of the reactor after routine maintenance outages.

“No major decommissioning activities occurred” at Palisades since the company filed a license amendment request to begin decommissioning in 2022, “and none have occurred since,” Holtec wrote in its landmark license amendment request.

Holtec has said that the unprecedented amendment it seeks is the single largest regulatory barrier to restarting the plant, which also by the company’s estimate requires a cash infusion between $1 billion and $2 billion. 

Holtec filed for a loan from the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office in 2023. Media reported in January that DOE planned to conditionally commit to the loan by March or so.

Holtec has repeatedly forecast dates for securing a conditional commitment from DOE and those dates have repeatedly passed without action from the agency. The Secretary of Energy, a currently former Michigan governor, must personally approve the loan.

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