Pilgrim shuts down for the final time

03 June 2019

Entergy’s Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Massachusetts was shut down permanently on 31 May after 47 years in operation. The company, which is leaving the merchant power business, announced in 2015 that it would close the 680 MWe boiling water reactor early for economic reasons.

Pilgrim (Image: Entergy)

The company said the decision to close the plant was the result of a number of financial factors, including low wholesale energy prices. Entergy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Leo Denault said the decision to close Pilgrim had been "difficult but necessary".

Pilgrim entered service in 1972, and is currently licensed to operate until 2032. The unit was earlier this year returned to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's highest operating level following a period of enhanced regulatory oversight after a regulatory inspection finding of low-to-moderate safety significance from issues involving the plant's safety relief valves.

Entergy agreed in 2018 to sell the closed-down plant to Holtec International for accelerated decommissioning. Regulatory approval and closing of the transaction are expected to take place this year, the company said. Holtec, through its affiliate Comprehensive Decommissioning International, will hire selected Entergy employees at Pilgrim to take part in the decommissioning work. Entergy has also said it will find positions within the company for qualified employees who are willing to relocate. So far, 50 Pilgrim employees have accepted offers to continue with the company in other locations, Entergy said.

Entergy’s remaining operating nuclear power plants in merchant power markets - Indian Point units 2 and 3 in New York, and Palisades in Michigan - are scheduled to be shut down in 2020, 2021, and 2022, respectively. Their closures will mark the end of Entergy’s participation in merchant power markets and its return to a pure-play utility, the company said. It owns and operates five nuclear units in regulated markets:  Arkansas Nuclear One units 1 and 2, plus single unit plants at Grand Gulf in Mississippi, and River Bend and Waterford 3 in Louisiana. It "remains committed" to the continued operation those nuclear plants, it said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News