Decommissioning activities were in full-swing this past summer at Holtec International’s Indian Point, Pilgrim and Oyster Creek sites.

“There is no such thing as the lazy days of summer at our decommissioning facilities,” said Kelly Trice, President, Holtec Decommissioning International. “Our neighbors, the public and our industry depend on continued safe, excellent and efficient progress as we decommission and evolve these former nuclear facilities into green parcels, ready for new commercial endeavors. Our employees and contractors truly deliver.”

Here’s a look at some of the highlights of the summer:

Pilgrim Fuel Moves Progressing

First New Cask Loaded on the ISFSI at Pilgrim

Pilgrim’s campaign to move all of its used fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool to its Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) pad continues. To date, 17 of 34 HI-STORM 100 dry storage systems have been placed on the ISFSI, with the first ones having been successfully placed on the site’s new upper ISFSI pad.

“The defueling project gained momentum after transitioning to a 24/7 loading effort on August 9, allowing an average of two HI-STORM 100 systems to be added to the ISFSI pad each week. In parallel, ongoing efforts to complete dry run activities allowing placement of loaded HI-STORMs on the new ISFSI Pad were completed and the first three systems were relocated to their new home on the upper pad,” explained site Project Manager Brandon Murray. “With an emphasis on safety and quality, the project team continues full steam ahead to a completion of the spent fuel transfer to Dry Storage by the end of November.”

Indian Point Readies for Fuel Moves

Holtec International’s newest fleet member, Indian Point, is quickly moving forward with its plans to complete spent fuel transfer to dry storage as well. The risk of an adverse event decreases significantly at a nuclear power plant once the reactor is shut down. This risk decreases even further when the spent fuel is moved into dry storage. Once the fuel is moved into dry storage, the decommissioning project technically becomes an industrial demolition project. 

In August, crews began construction of the site’s second ISFSI pad. This new pad will hold 50 HI-STORM 100s for spent fuel and an additional 12 systems for Greater-than-Class C waste, and is expected to be completed within a year. The site’s existing ISFSI can hold 75 systems. Four HI-STORMs with spent fuel from Unit 2 will be loaded onto the existing ISFSI this fall. The remaining Unit 2 fuel will be loaded beginning in April 2022, followed by the remaining Unit 3 casks beginning in January 2023. In total, all spent fuel from the pools will be safely stored in 125 systems, along with the additional 12 for Greater-than-Class C, by the end of March 2023.

Indian Point Prepares for Autumn Fuel Moves

Oyster Creek Becomes an “ISFSI Island”

After all the used fuel was safely moved onto the ISFSI at Oyster Creek in late May, the station focused on transforming from a radiological site to a demolition site. Once the fuel was on the ISFSI, all radiological security and safety considerations shifted completely to that location, enabling a safer, more efficient demolition of all the other buildings and structures left on site. Security systems on site were restructured; security personnel were recertified and reassigned, and the security footprint around the site was greatly reduced. In early August, the NRC granted regulatory approval for what is often referred to as an “ISFSI island.” 

Change is Seen Everywhere

At all three sites, visual change is constant. Buildings and other structures have continued to be taken down and, in some cases, construction has been done to better make use of the sites for efficient decommissioning.

A major project at Oyster Creek was the demolition of the Augmented Off-Gas Building. It is the first radiologically contaminated structure in the fleet to have been taken down. First, decontamination of the entire structure was completed, in order to make the building fully clean for a standard demolition. Lastly, the thick, reinforced concrete walls were demolished and the project was completed with the upmost safety and precision. 

Demolition of Oyster Creek’s Augmented Off-Gas Building

At Indian Point, a new rainwater retention pond was built to make room for the new ISFSI pad, which is being built where the former pond was located. In addition, some 14 trailers have been removed, sold or repurposed. 

Pilgrim has been a leader in efficient and clean shipment of waste from the site. Since beginning decommissioning, Pilgrim has removed over 1.4 million pounds of material from the site including the 36  concrete  shield  blocks  that  used  to  cover  the reactor vessel when in operation. This “housecleaning” enables the station to be better configured when building demolition becomes the station focus.