Decommissioning firm blames law for delay
Holtec, the company responsible for decommissioning the Indian Point nuclear power plant, recently informed New York State and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission that instead of finishing its work by 2033, it will now take until 2041, a delay of eight years.
In a letter to the NRC, Holtec blamed the delay on recent state legislation that prevents it from releasing radioactive wastewater from the spent fuel pools into the Hudson River. (The firm last month finished moving 3,998 “spent fuel assemblies” into 127 reinforced concrete and steel casks on the site.) Holtec also said it would delay its decommissioning of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Massachusetts because of similar legislation passed there that prevents the discharge of wastewater into Cape Cod Bay.
Holtec said it is weighing what to do with the wastewater at Indian Point, which closed in 2021. It said it has not ruled out legal action against either or both states. A company representative, Patrick O’Brien, said the decommissioning schedule took years to develop and that “with systems and buildings being interconnected, any changes” impact the entire plan.
O’Brien noted that, even with the eight-year delay, the revised schedule still has Holtec finishing far ahead of the 60-year deadline required by the NRC, or 2081.
The 2033 — now 2041 — date is referred to as a “partial site release,” because although the decommissioning work would be complete, the spent fuel would remain on-site. Holtec’s schedule has the company shipping the spent fuel to an as-yet-to-be-determined location beginning in 2046 and continuing for 15 years.
Since the federal government has not yet made good on its decades-old promise to construct a facility capable of safely storing radioactive waste for up to 300,000 years, Holtec is seeking federal approval to build its own “semi-permanent” site in New Mexico.