The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects to take nine months to a year to complete its review of the request from Entergy and Holtec International to transfer the federal license for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts.
The two corporations in November submitted the request to transfer the plant’s operations license and license for its spent fuel storage pad.
Owner Entergy plans to close the nearly 47-year-old facility by June 1. It aims by the end of the year to sell the site to Holtec, after which the New Jersey energy technology company would assume responsibility for decommissioning, site restoration, and spent fuel management at Pilgrim.
Holtec and Entergy in November also filed separate post-shutdown decommissioning activities reports, which lay out cleanup schedules, cost projections, and other data. The NRC has scheduled a public meeting for Jan. 15 to discuss Entergy’s PSDAR and decommissioning cost estimate.
The PSDARs are due two years after a nuclear plant closes. “Entergy and Holtec are well ahead of the curve,” Bruce Watson, chief of the Reactor Decommissioning Branch in the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Materials Safety and Safeguards, said Tuesday during a webinar on Pilgrim’s license transfer and decommissioning.
Watson said four to five NRC staff members will do most of the 500 hours of review work needed for the license transfer application, translating to up to a year of work.
If Entergy remains owner, the site would be largely dormant until 2073, with major license termination activities wrapping up in 2080. Holtec, meanwhile, would complete decommissioning around 2025. Full license termination would occur in 2063 — after the Department of Energy meets its legal requirement to remove the spent nuclear reactor fuel.
Holtec’s PSDAR predicts a $1.134 billion budget for decommissioning, site restoration, and spent fuel management. Entergy’s PSDAR estimated the total cleanup budget at $1.1661 billion. The power company’s decommissioning trust fund currently has more than $1 billion; it would transfer to Holtec once the sale is completed.