Holtec’s fleet approach to decommissioning allows sites to share resources, multiply experience and expertise, and learn from each other’s best practices. Working together as a fleet is spelling success for the Pilgrim and Oyster Creek Decommissioning Sites.
“Every site is like a fingerprint – there are unique aspects that must be understood, and there are many similarities, which allow for standardization in our decommissioning approach. Our expertly-developed decommissioning processes and procedures consider those differences and similarities, and are a key to our safe, precise, efficient decommissioning,” said Pam Cowan, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Holtec Decommissioning International. “The expertise and dedication of our leadership and workforce at the sites who developed and implement these efficient processes is second to none. We are a leader in decommissioning because we share our strengths and work as one team with a united goal of safety and excellence.”
Taking Down the Stacks
The iconic landmarks for both Pilgrim and Oyster Creek is, no doubt, their effluent stacks. These monoliths tower a few hundred feet above ground, serving as focal points for boaters and visible reminders of the years of service that the nuclear generating stations provided.
Plans are now in place, and local and state permits have been secured for the demolition of Pilgrim’s main stack and 160-foot back-up meteorological tower. Work will begin this month and should take a few weeks to complete. Removing the stack will be a deliberate process, with one 38-foot section being removed at a time. Removal of the stack and the accompanying guy-wires will support used fuel moves to Pilgrim’s Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) in the future.
This is one decommissioning project where Pilgrim and Oyster Creek are different. Current Oyster Creek plans call for its stack to be one of the final structures removed from the station, a number of years from now.
Segmenting Reactor Internals
Last month, Oyster Creek completed its steam separator segmentation campaign with no safety or human performance concerns. Project leads attribute a strong, diverse, cross-functional team committed to personal and radiological safety and excellence.
Work at Pilgrim continues in anticipation of its upcoming reactor vessel internal work. The cutting table and tooling have been installed. With the tooling in place and ready, next steps will be to flood up the dryer-separator cavity to ensure work is completed safely and with negligible radiological risk for workers.
“Oyster Creek successfully segmented their dryer and separator. In doing so, valuable learnings were shared with the Pilgrim Team and we look forward to safely executing our segmentation plans, per our detailed planning and partnership with GE,” said Pilgrim Site Vice President John Moylan.
Cleaning Up the Stations
It is no secret that buildings and other structures are coming down at both sites, but there is a great deal of prep work that needs to take place before demolition can occur. For example, if you were to visit Pilgrim or Oyster Creek and look in some of the buildings no longer in use, you would see that they are all emptied out. They need to be empty, with all utilities completely disconnected before they can be taken down.
At Pilgrim, a major cleanup of the change shack and the gas bottle storage area was recently completed to prepare for the removal of those structures. This will allow better mobility of vehicles accessing the site and provide better site lines with increased vehicle traffic within the facility.
Some cleanup efforts are done to make better use of existing buildings. For years, Oyster Creek’s Low-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Facility warehoused equipment used during outages, specific valve repairs and specialized maintenance. Thanks to an outstanding team effort, workers teamed up for a months-long project to make this building practically spotless. The empty building will now be used to store containerized waste.