Palisades sale from Entergy to Holtec completed

29 June 2022

Holtec International has completed the acquisition of the Palisades Power Plant and the Big Rock Point site from Entergy. The decommissioning timeline for Palisades is 19 years, with small modular reactors one option for future uses of the two sites.

The Palisades nuclear power plant operated for 50 years (Image: Entergy)

Entergy announced in 2016 its plan to close Covert, Michigan-based Palisades with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approving the transfer of the licence from Entergy to Holtec for the purposes of decommissioning in December 2021.

Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault said: "We thank the excellent employees of Palisades for their dedication to safe, secure and reliable operations and we look forward to many of them continuing on with Entergy at new locations within our utility service area. We remain committed to our four nuclear power stations in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The clean, carbon-free energy they produce is a key part of Entergy reaching its 2050 net-zero emissions commitment."

Kelly Trice, president of Holtec Decommissioning International, said: "We are pleased to be acquiring these facilities to add to our growing decommissioning fleet. We are also pleased that the talented, knowledgeable, and hard-working team at Palisades is joining the Holtec team. These team members will continue to deploy the same cutting-edge technologies that we have employed at Indian Point, Pilgrim, and Oyster Creek to ensure maximum worker safety, protection of the environment, preservation of the well-being of the local community, and to build upon the excellence achieved at other plants in our fleet."

Palisades, an 805 MWe pressurised water reactor, operated for more than 50 years and closed on 20 May this year after a record 577 straight days of operation. Big Rock Point, in Charlevoix, Michigan, operated from 1962 to 1997 and has been decommissioned, with only the dry fuel storage facility remaining.

Since its shutdown, the Palisades team has defueled the reactor, placing the used fuel in the used fuel pool for storage. The fuel will now be moved to "robust transportable canisters in structurally-impregnable dry storage systems of the same vintage that is sold by Holtec to scores of nuclear plant sites around the world".

The Palisades decommissioning project will have a 19-year timeline, with the projected completion of transfer of fuel from wet to dry storage by 2025. Entergy said the sale meant the remediation of the site would be completed 40 years sooner than if it continued to own it and chose the maximum 60-year NRC decommissioning option.

Holtec said it hopes to ship the multi-purpose canisters containing the used fuel to its proposed consolidated interim storage facility in southeastern New Mexico, which is undergoing the final stage of licensing review by the NRC. Holtec says that following decommissioning the 400+ acre site will be fit for industrial use, except for a small area where the dry storage casks will be stored.

It said: "Among the viable proposals for repurposing the Big Rock Point and Palisades sites, is building Holtec’s SMR-160 advanced light water reactor, the first of which are scheduled to enter service in around 2030."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News