Indian Point Energy Center was shut down permanently by Entergy on April 30, 2021, after providing electricity safely to the region for nearly 60 years. In May of 2021, Indian Point Energy Center was purchased by Holtec International in a deal that allowed the site to enter immediate decommissioning. The deal enables decommissioning and site release for alternate uses decades sooner than previously anticipated. As Indian Point enters into this new chapter, its commitment to safety, the community and the environment remains unchanged.
Our Goals for Decommissioning Indian Point
Achieving excellence in the health and safety of personnel
Protecting the environment now and for future generations
Ensuring a safe, respectful and equal opportunity workplace
Demanding the highest level of individual and corporate integrity
Continually improving upon our robust quality assurance program
Employing financially sustainable business practices
Maintaining transparent and ongoing communication with stakeholders
Fulfilling our promise to be a trusted steward of legacy nuclear materials
Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants
Decommissioning is the process by which nuclear power plants are safely retired from service. The progression involves decontaminating the facility to reduce residual radioactivity, dismantling the structures, removing contaminated materials to appropriate disposal facilities and releasing the property for other uses. The owner remains accountable to the NRC until decommissioning has been completed and the agency has terminated its license.
Here’s a brief look at what will occur at Indian Point:
- Indian Point shut down Unit 3, its final operating reactor, on Friday, April 30, at 11:00 p.m. This removed about 1,000 megawatts of electricity from the regional grid.
- Indian Point’s fuel has been removed from the reactor vessel and placed in the spent fuel pool to cool.
- Once cooled, the fuel will be placed in stainless steel canisters and transported to the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Facility (ISFSI) on station property.
- Radioactive equipment and components are dismantled per an approved decommissioning plan.
- Contaminated components are dismantled, securely packaged and transported to a licensed off-site facility.
- The site is inspected by state and federal agencies to ensure the property has been returned to conditions outlined in the decommissioning plans. Both the State and Federal agencies will continue to monitor the site.
Our Decommissioning Team:
After Indian Point Energy Center ceased operations, many of the operations employees transferred into a decommissioning organization. Throughout the decommissioning lifecycle, many of the same employees will assist in the safe dismantlement of Indian Point. Here’s a look at what we will be doing.
Protecting the facility and the public:
A security force will safeguard the facility until all nuclear fuel has been removed from the site.
Engineers, technicians & craftworkers:
A highly qualified, skilled staff of experts will oversee and conduct the entire dismantlement process.
Using company employees and contracted experts, we will continue a strong environmental monitoring program through decommissioning.
Teams of qualified employees, both on and off-site, will be on-call all day, every day to work to protect the plant and the public in an unlikely emergency situation.
Overview of Decommissioning Process
- To decommission a nuclear power plant, the licensee must submit A Post‐Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) to the NRC. This report provides a description of the planned decommissioning activities, a schedule for accomplishing them, and an estimate of the expected costs.
- The licensee has to reduce the residual radioactivity to levels that permit release of the property and termination of the facility’s operating license. The site must be decommissioned within 60 years of the plant ceasing operations.
- The decommissioning process involves removing the used nuclear fuel from the reactor; dismantling systems or components containing radioactive products (e.g. the reactor vessel); and cleaning up or dismantling contaminated materials from the facility.
- Contaminated materials can be disposed of in two ways: decontaminated on site or removed and shipped to a waste processing, storage or disposal facility.
(Companies can choose one or both options)
- SAFSTOR (Safe Storage) ‐ Plant is kept intact, all fuel is placed in spent fuel pool or dry storage casks and time is used as a decontaminating agent. Plant is then dismantled similar to DECON once radioactivity has decayed to lower levels.
- DECON (Decontamination) ‐ Contaminated equipment and materials are removed (used nuclear fuel rods and equipment account for over 99 percent of the plant’s radioactivity). Plant is then dismantled ‐ this phase can take five years or longer.
Terminating the NRC License, Releasing the Site
As the DECON phase nears completion, the company must submit a license termination plan to the NRC. This needs to occur within two years of the proposed license termination date. After the NRC receives the license termination plan, affected states, local communities and tribes may submit comments on the plan at a public meeting near the facility. The public also has the opportunity to request an adjudicatory hearing. Members of the public may observe any meeting the NRC holds with the company, unless the discussion involves proprietary, sensitive, safeguarded or classified information.
Once public concerns are addressed, the NRC will terminate the license if all work has followed the approved license termination plan and the final radiation survey shows that the site is suitable for release. Most plans envision releasing the site to the public for unrestricted use, meaning any residual radiation would be below NRC’s limits of 25 millirem per year. This completes the decommissioning process.
Unit 1 shut down in 1974. Unit 2 shut down in April 2020. Unit 3 shut down on April 30, 2021.
Holtec and Entergy filed a license transfer application with the NRC in November 2019. The companies have also requested an order from the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) disclaiming jurisdiction or, alternatively, approving the transaction. Closing is also conditioned on obtaining from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) an agreement confirming Holtec’s decommissioning plans as being consistent with applicable standards. Pending these regulatory approvals, transaction closing is anticipated in the second quarter of 2021.
Holtec submitted a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) and a Decommissioning Cost Estimate in December 2019. The PSDAR provides a detailed timetable for the project with partial site release expected within 12-15 years.
Based off its Decommissioning Cost Estimate (DCE), Holtec is confident that sufficient funding is available to safely complete decommissioning. Management and use of the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Funds (DTFs) are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Though the DTFs are expected to continue to grow, NRC regulations only allow licensees to assume a conservative minimum two percent real rate of return which takes inflation and other cost increases into consideration. In addition, licensees are required to submit an annual report to the NRC on decommissioning costs. If the NRC believed the DTFs are insufficient, they can impose restrictions if the balance were to be off significantly — the NRC could ask to stop work or require additional funding into the DTFs before decommissioning work can proceed.
The cash flow analyses submitted by Holtec are conservative in that they do not assume that any costs recovered from the DOE (through litigation or settlement) will be deposited back into the trust fund. Even without taking credit for these DOE recovered costs, the cash flow analyses demonstrate that there are more than sufficient funds in the IPEC DTFs to pay for all estimated license termination/radiological decommissioning, spent fuel management, and site restoration costs.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Trust Funds (DTFs) were transferred to Entergy (and will be transferred to Holtec if the proposed transaction is consummated) as consideration for its assumption of the liability and risks of decommissioning. Since Entergy’s acquisition of Indian Point, New York ratepayers have not borne, and today do not bear, the risk regarding the adequacy of the DTFs relative to the eventual costs of decommissioning. Consistent with that allocation of risk, any DTFs remaining after all financial obligations to complete decommissioning have been satisfied will remain with the owner of the trust.
Any current IPEC employee who wants to remain with Entergy through shutdown of Unit 3 in 2021 is able to do so (Unit 2 shut down in 2020). Entergy has committed to finding a position within the company for any qualified IPEC employee who is willing to relocate. Entergy is also preparing to staff the Phase 1 decommissioning organization with current Indian Point employees. The Holtec team has committed to offering employment to all Phase 1 employees, which will be more than 300 individuals, pending regulatory approval and transaction close. Holtec will also honor all existing collective bargaining agreements.
Holtec’s decommissioning team has a National Labor Agreement (NLA) in place with the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Operating Engineers of North America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Working through these unions, local union halls near Indian Point have been identified to provide the necessary skilled labor needed to safely execute and complete decommissioning.
Changes to the Indian Point emergency plan will be made with NRC approval, corresponding with the reduced risk of an event at the site through the various stages of decommissioning. After Unit 3 is shut down and the reactor is permanently defueled, the risk of an event significantly decreases and the Emergency Planning Zone (formerly a 10-mile radius around the plant) is eventually reduced to the site boundary with NRC approval of the Emergency Plan change. There are still emergency procedures station employees must follow, but they are primarily based on industrial risk, not radiological risk. Any proposed changes would be consistent with other decommissioning plants and require approval by the NRC.
All spent nuclear fuel will be moved out of the spent fuel pools and into dry cask storage by the end of 2024; there will be 125 casks in dry storage by the end of 2024.
Yes, monitoring of ground water will be maintained throughout decommissioning and up to the point of the NRC approved partial site release.
Each material and waste type will be managed on site, prepared for shipment and transported in accordance with New York Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Transportation requirements.
All management of materials from the site will meet New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York Department of Transportation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and U.S. Department of Transportation requirements. This ensures that all material is managed in accordance with the material category (Solid Waste, Recyclables/Reusables, Hazardous Waste and Radioactive Waste). Final disposition will occur at permitted, licensed and registered facilities.
The types of materials that can be transported by barge are tightly controlled. This includes specific containment requirements, transport safety features, limitation on shipping routes and impacts from weather conditions. In addition, there is required backup equipment for towing and managing buoyance, so that in the unlikely event of a transportation incident, the material will be contained or able to proceed to a safe location for further management.
All materials and waste type will be prepared and transported in accordance with both New York and United States Department of Transportation requirements. These requirements ensure that any hazardous materials are controlled and monitored during transport, designated emergency procedures are in place for response to accidents and any high hazard materials have containers designed to prevent release in accident conditions.
Holtec has no immediate plans for the site at this time.
The Holtec’s HI-STORM 100 systems consist of three main components, which includes the overpack, the Multi-Purpose Canister (MPC) and the lids.
- Overpack – 27 ¾”
- Concrete – 27”
- Exterior Steel Surround – ¾”
- Multi-Purpose Canister (MPC) – ½” Stainless Steel
- This holds the spent fuel inside a basket of stainless steel and a Metamic Neutron absorber.
- MPC Lid – 9.5” Stainless Steel
- Overpack Lid – 19” Steel and Concrete
- Overpack – 27 ¾”
Advances in technology in the industry have shortened the time required for fuel to be stored in the spent fuel pool after leaving the reactor. Advances include the use of new innovative materials used in the construction of the fuel assembly baskets and MPCs.
As an example, our Pilgrim facility in Massachusetts closed in May of 2019, with all fuel removed from the reactor and placed into the pool by mid-June 2019. With the continued use of innovative technologies, Pilgrim will have moved all fuel from the pool and placed on the pad by January 2022.
As indicated in the Safety Evaluation Report, the overpack is designed to become slightly radioactive over time. Although the overpack does become slightly radioactive over time, work activities around an overpack are able to be performed safely with no additional protective measures needed to be taken by personnel.
As part of Holtec’s robust aging management program, there are regularly planned inspections of canisters that will examine the entire surface of the canister. If these inspections find any deficiency with the canister, repacking would occur well in advanced of any deficiencies developing into a leak.
The NRC, as an independent regulator, would act as the check and balance to the robust aging management program Holtec will have in place at IPEC to maintain integrity of the casks.
Safety is our number #1 priority at Holtec.
The process of moving and storing spent nuclear fuel is one that follows rigorous processes and procedures that Holtec has been implementing for more than 30 years. There are multiple back-up systems, including redundant pumps and back-up power supplies, that are put into place to ensure the fuel in the pool remains cool for the needed time until it is safely transferred, underwater, into the MPC before being vacuum dried, welded, backfilled with an inert gas, and loaded into an overpack and safely moved to the ISFSI pad.
The life expectancy of the stainless-steel canister, which is the primary containment of the spent nuclear fuel, varies based on the environment. However, conservative estimates put the life expectancy of the canister at hundreds of years given the system is both robust and has no active components.
Initially, the NRC licenses each system for a 20-year period with the ability, based on aging management program and inspection, to renew the license for an additional 40-years. This renewal process goes through extensive review and inspection.
Yes, Holtec’s overpack can be opened and are opened as part of the aging management program to inspect the MPC.
32 assemblies of IPEC’s fuel can fit in each MPC. Each assembly is made up of fuel rods, and each rod contains uranium-oxide fuel pellets. In the IPEC fuel, there are 225 rods per assembly. Other plants have different fuel designs; for example, Pilgrim’s fuel can fit 68 assemblies per MPC.
In the highly unlikely event that a multi-purpose canister (MPC), protected by an overpack with 27 inches of steel and concrete surrounding the MPC were to leak, the temporary solution would be to place the MPC in a HI-STAR 100 transportation overpack.
Because no such leak has ever occurred from a Holtec MPC, with 20 years of system usage, as the licensed owner of the system, as well as the manufacturer of the system, we would work to bring the canister back into the required compliance under NRC regulations. As always, our priority remains on the safe, secure storage of all spent fuel in our systems and pride ourselves on the innovations Holtec has brought to the industry regarding fuel storage.
The owner/license-holder of the ISFSI will be responsible for the aging management program and the inspections, and this is performed under the regulatory jurisdiction of the NRC.
Yes, as part of Holtec’s proposed decommissioning activities, Holtec has considered the impacts from those activities. In the event that the remediation requires clean-up in the areas adjacent to the utilities, we will coordinate with the relevant stakeholders to ensure the work is performed in a manner that is safe and in compliance with all requirements.
Furthermore, all decommissioning activities will be carried out under controlled work processes and procedures that will ensure no vital systems, structures or components at the site (such as gas lines and power transmission lines) are damaged or their functionality compromised. In addition, the location of the IPEC ISFSI pad is not located close to the pipelines on site. The casks are designed and built to resist multiple beyond design basis events including fire, earthquakes, projectiles, tornadoes, floods, temperature extremes and other natural and manmade scenarios.
Site remediation and clean-up are cornerstones of the decommissioning project. We will perform extensive site characterization, based on historical data from Entergy and previous owners, as well as address any information gaps to ensure we identify and remediate all hazards according to state and federal regulations. This characterization and clean-up process will continue for the entirety of the project to meet those requirements to allow for partial site release (everything but the spent fuel pad) and site reuse.
Like Entergy, we do not filter groundwater and will monitor it to understand the characteristics of legacy issues as well as ensure that there are no new leaks or spills. Before the site can be released so it can be repurposed, Holtec will need to comply with any federal and state environmental requirements.
Fuel of all burnups are processed together for optimized loading, so higher burned fuel is neither loaded earlier nor later than any other fuel.
Holtec, through Holtec Decommissioning International as the licensee and CDI as the general decommissioning contractor, would assume responsibility to remediate the site to state and federal requirements.
HDI is Licensed Operator for Indian Point
Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Holtec International headquartered at the Krishna P. Singh Technology Campus, Camden, NJ. HDI functions as the licensed operator for Holtec owned nuclear power plants. HDI provides the licensee oversight of Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI), Holtec and SNC-Lavalin’s jointly owned decommissioning general contractor.