Holtec’s HI-LIFT speeds up decommissioning at Indian Point

22 June 2023

US-based Holtec International is using its HI-LIFT heavy load handling technology to speed up decommissioning work at unit 3 of the US Indian Point NPP in Buchanan, New York State.

All three units at the Indian Point Energy Centre have been closed for decommissioning. Unit 1, a 257 MWe pressurised water reactor operated between 1962 and 1974. Unit 2 was closed in April 2020, and unit 3 in April 2021, after 45 years in operation. Holtec purchased of the Indian Point Energy Centre from Entergy in June 2021 to undertake its decommissioning. Holtec expects decommissioning is take 12-15 years.

HI-LIFT enables NPPs to safely load heavy modern casks and canisters even though the cranes installed to help with construction and operation cranes do not have sufficient capacity. In addition, the structural strength of the plant’s load bearing walls is often inadequate.

HI-LIFT was first conceived, patented, designed, built and deployed at Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) Humboldt Bay Power Plant, decommissioned more than a decade ago. The crane there dated back to 1947 and wall structure supporting the crane was qualified for just 40 tons. The Humboldt Bay HI-LIFT safely handled Holtec’s HI-STAR HB dual purpose casks without stressing the existing crane or its supporting walls. This saved PG&E substantial decommissioning funds and made possible an accelerated schedule, reducing the project’s duration by three years, avoiding the need to strengthen the load bearing walls and install a new high-capacity bridge crane.

Holtec’s defuelling at Indian Point 3 faced the same crane capacity problem that it had confronted its sister plant, Indian Point unit 2. The previous owner reportedly spent over $60m to upgrade the crane to 110 tons and strengthen the supporting walls. Using the HI-LIFT technology, Holtec engineered and installed the 100-ton HI-LIFT crane for less than $10m

The HI-LIFT technology enables the heavy payload to be safely transferred to the plant’s foundation using the structurally competent portion of the building, bypassing the weak regions such as the load bearing walls. HI-LIFT was approved by the NRC for Humboldt Bay a decade ago and recently for Indian Point 3, as a single-failure–proof load handling device. It has been manufactured as a safety-significant structure at the Holtec Manufacturing Division in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Holtec says the HI-LIFT provides a proven solution to overcome the limitation in the civil/structural load bearing capacity of many nuclear power plants built in the 1960s and 70s when heavy casks, used universally in dry storage projects, did not exist. Using the HI-LIFT system is expected to streamline and reduce the number of used fuel movements needed to defuel Indian Point 3 so that the defuelling campaign will take only six months.

Image: The Holtec HI-LIFT at Indian Point 3 (courtesy of Holtec)

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