Unit 2 at the US Indian Point nuclear power plant closed on 30 April as part of a deal reached in January 2017 between Entergy, the state of New York and the environmental group Riverkeeper.

The plant’s two pressurised water reactor (PWRs) generated a quarter of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County in 2017.

Indian Point 2, with a net generating capacity of 998MWe, began commercial operation in 1974. Indian Point 3, a 1030MWe unit began operating in 1976 and is due to retire in April 2021. New natural gas power plants and efficiency measures are expected to up the slack.

Entergy has agreed to sell the plant to Holtec International, a New Jersey-based decommissioning firm. But the licence transfer, which is pending Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval, will take place only after the plant closes in 2021.

“We view the IPEC (Indian Point Energy Centre) site to be valuable land where we can sprout new clean industries and create local employment,” Holtec said in a statement. “Working with leadership of the local community and state, we will endeavour to ensure a proper future for the IPEC site.”

Holtec said it will employ innovative package design, first employed at Oyster Creek, to reduce the number of shipments of radioactive cargo through local communities during the dismantling of both Indian Point and Pilgrim.

Entergy said in a statement that it is committed to continued operation of the nuclear fleet in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. It shut down Pilgrim in Massachusetts last year and plans to close the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan in 2022. Both these facilities will be decommissioned by Holtec, through its affiliate Comprehensive Decommissioning International.

In late April, the Climate Coalition, a group of individuals, environmental groups, climate and clean energy advocates delivered a petition and letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to postpone the closure of Indian Point. They said the closure would "increase emissions, hurt residents' health, destabilise the grid, and set back New York's climate agenda".

Photo: Indian Point 2 closed in April 2020 (Photo credit: Entergy)