Officials in Massachusetts have dropped a lawsuit against US-based Holtec International, which allows the $1.13 billion-decontamination and decommissioning of the 670MWe Pilgrim nuclear plant to move forward.
Holtec owns the site after the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) transferred the site operating licence from Entergy Nuclear. The state has also dropped its challenge to the transfer.
An agreement reached on 16 June will see Holtec set aside $193 million of the plant’s decommissioning trust fund to pay for cost increases, project delays and possible hidden contamination. After completing cleanup, $38.8 million will be set aside to cover the cost to transporting used nuclear fuel stored at the site to out-of-state storage. The Massachusetts Deptment of Environmental Protection and Department of Public Health will oversee the cleanup.
“I’m pleased we were able to work with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to find common ground that provides Holtec the certainty needed to safely complete decommissioning on the projected timeline,” said Pam Cowan, CEO of Holtec Decommissioning International.
Holtec also must comply with state standards to clean up hazardous materials such as oil and polychlorinated biphenyls.
Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement that the agreement “provides critical protections, includes compliance measures stricter than federal requirements”.
Pilgrim, a 680MWe boiling water reactor, was shut down in 2019 after 47 years of operation. Deconstruction of buildings and structures outside the controlled area of the plant started in August 2019, immediately after Holtec acquired the plant’s. A joint-venture of Holtec and SNC-Lavalin Group will complete demolition and site cleanup.
Holtec previously said it plans to complete decommissioning of the Pilgrim site - with the exception of the used fuel storage facility - within eight years. It plans to store used fuel from Pilgrim and other US nuclear plants at its proposed HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility in southeast New Mexico.
Holtec said it expect the NRC to issue a licence for the HI-STORE CISF in spring 2021, which will enable the company to enter into contract negotiations with potential customers.
Photo: Drywell Head Piece Movement at Pilgrim (Credit: Holtec International)