Pilgrim closes down

4 June 2019

The US Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth, Massachussetts was permanently shut down on 31 May after 47 years of operation, ending nuclear power generation in Massachusetts.

Plant operator Entergy announced in 2015 that it would retire the 680MWe General Electric boiling water reactor, in the face of competition from less expensive energy sources.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is reviewing Entergy’s proposal to sell Pilgrim to Holtec International for decommissioning. Holtec is promising an aggressive schedule for cleaning up and removing the physical plant within eight years at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion.  

Holtec, through its affiliate Comprehensive Decommissioning International, will hire Entergy’s employees at Pilgrim who have been selected for “Phase I” of decommissioning. The other option is for Entergy to place Pilgrim into “safe storage” mode under a $1.6 billion decommissioning plan that could take  60 years.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has raised several concerns about the proposed sale and has requested NRC to hold public hearings before giving approval. Holtec has never owned a commercial nuclear power plant.

The closure of Pilgrim will leave Entergy without any operating reactors in merchant power markets from 2023, as it is intending to close Indian Point  2&3, in New York, and Palisades in Michigan, in 2020, 2021, and 2022, respectively.  "These closures, along with the sale of these plants to decommissioning specialty companies, mark the end of Entergy’s participation in merchant power markets and its return to a pure-play utility," a statement said.

However, Entergy stressed it's committment to continue operating its five nuclear reactors in regulated markets:  of Louisiana (River Bend and Waterford 3), Arkansas (Arkansas Nuclear One 1&2) and Mississippi (Grand Gulf).


Photo: Pilgrim nuclear plant (Credit: Entergy)



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