US-based Holtec International has completed acquisition of the Palisades NPP and the Big Rock Point site from Entergy Corporation. This transfer was made possible by the licence transfer approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in December 2021. Under this asset transfer agreement, the sites’ ownership has been transferred to Holtec International with Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI) serving as the licence holder and the prime decommissioning contractor.
Palisades shutdown in May, after more than 50 years powering Southwest Michigan. The shutdown occurred after a site and world record production run of 577 straight days of operation. Following the shutdown, the team at Palisades defuelled the reactor placing all the used fuel into the plant’s used fuel pool.
Big Rock Point, located in Charlevoix Michigan, shutdown in 1997 and was decommissioned in the early 2000’s. Only the used fuel remains at the Big Rock Point site.
Holtec and Palisades personnel have been working methodically on an integrated transition plan, which has laid the foundation for decommissioning of the site. The first substantial activity will be moving the plant’s used fuel from the pool to robust transportable canisters in structurally-impregnable dry storage systems.
Decommissioning of Palisades will benefit from the fully implemented fleet model, called the Holtec Management Model, which envisages an integrated fleet management structure that unifies the array of safety, operation, quality assurance and management procedures/practices, which are continuously informed by the lessons learned from decommissioning activities at each Holtec-owned decommissioning site. The Palisades decommissioning project will take 19 years, with the projected completion of transfer of fuel from wet to dry storage by 2025.
With completion of Palisades decommissioning the site will be fit for commercial/industrial use, except for a small parcel of land where the dry storage casks will reside under rigorous security guarded by personnel from Holtec Security International. Holtec hopes to ship the multi-purpose canisters containing the used fuel to Holtec’s proposed consolidated interim storage facility in Southeastern New Mexico, called HI-STORE CISF, which is undergoing the final stage of licensing review by the NRC.
Among the viable proposals for re-purposing the Big Rock Point and Palisades sites, is building Holtec’s SMR-160 advanced light water reactor, the firsts of which are scheduled to enter service in around 2030.
Image: The Palisades nuclear power plant (photo courtesy of Entergy)