The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved the transfer of the Palisades Power Plant to Holtec International after the facility permanently shuts down in the spring of 2022. The approval also allows the transfer of Entergy’s decommissioned Big Rock Point facility near Charlevoix, Michigan, where only the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) remains. The NRC review confirmed that Holtec met the regulatory, legal, technical and financial requirements to merit qualification as the successor licensee of the plant.

Palisades Power Plant in Covert Township, Michigan

“The NRC’s approval is a major milestone that reaffirms Holtec’s standing as the industry leader in the decommissioning of retired nuclear plants,” said Holtec’s Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, Joy Russell.

Under the license transfer, Holtec subsidiaries Holtec Palisades, LLC and Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI), LLC will be the licensed owner and operator, respectively. With the NRC’s approval granted, Entergy Corporation and Holtec International look forward to completing the ownership transfer following Palisades’ permanent shutdown and reactor de-fueling in mid-2022 when Holtec will assume ownership of the site, real property and all nuclear waste including used nuclear fuel.

As the NRC license holder, HDI will be responsible for decommissioning the plant using its cutting-edge technologies that minimize radioactive waste volumes, personnel dose and impact to the environment. HDI’s innovative technical solutions and a fleet management model that employs standardized processes and procedures sharpened through implementation across multiple decommissioning sites will be used at Palisades. The ongoing dose, safety, and environmental protection metrics garnered by HDI provide definitive proof that the dismantling of a nuclear plant can be a non-intrusive societal presence and an environmentally safe undertaking.

“The Palisades decommissioning program coming on the heels of the ongoing programs at Oyster Creek, Pilgrim and Indian Point, will leverage Holtec’s fleet management model suffused with innovative technical solutions developed by the company to maximize personnel safety and minimize the waste volumes and total dose accreted to the plant personnel with environmental stewardship as our pre-eminent consideration. We espouse the social values of our predecessor plant owner, Entergy, as we strive to be a worthy corporate citizen of the host community,” said HDI President Kelly Trice.

With Palisades’s shutdown scheduled for May 31, 2022, Holtec and Entergy expect to conclude the transaction by June 30, 2022. Holtec plans to move all the fuel in the plant’s spent fuel pool into dry cask storage at Palisades within three years of shutdown.

Like Big Rock Point, Palisades’s spent nuclear fuel will remain safely stored in dry casks at its onsite storage facility until the U.S. Government takes possession of it (as required under a 1982 law) or the canisters are transferred to an alternative location, such as Holtec’s proposed HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) which is undergoing licensing by the NRC. Final regulatory approval of HI-STORE CISF is expected in early 2022. HI-STORE would provide a supremely safe, secure, readily retrievable and centralized subterranean facility for storing spent nuclear fuel on an interim basis instead of the existing state of dispersed storage at multiple nuclear plant sites like Palisades and Big Rock Point. The HI-STORE CISF below-grade canister storage system would thus dramatically enhance the security metrics of used fuel management in the US. We are pleased to observe that Ukraine, facing a similar problem, is tantalizingly close to commissioning its centralized storage facility in the north of the country using Holtec’s HI-STORM technology (in early 2022).