Potential Nuclear Plant Owner Answers NRC Questions About Decommissioning Resources

By GINA G. SCALA | May 29, 2019
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Forked River — Holtec Decommissioning International, the company interested in buying up retired or retiring nuclear power plants, including the Oyster Creek Generating Station, is showing some of its cards for how it will ensure management and technical support and have sufficient resources for handling decommissioning plans at multiple sites on the East Coast.

In its April 17 response to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s request for additional information, the Camden-based company outlines how it will utilize a fleet model to manage and perform licensed activities at its shuttered nuclear plants during decommissioning. The request for additional information stems from HDI’s plans to decommission the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., following its final outage. Oyster Creek’s license transfer application was submitted on Aug. 31, 2018, while the Pilgrim license transfer was filed on Nov. 16, 2018.

According to paperwork submitted to the NRC, “the HDI decommissioning fleet corporate organization infrastructure is based on a Governance, Oversight, Support and Performance (GOSP) management model. ... This fleet model provides for efficiency by establishing standard processes, procedures, and approaches at the corporate level and at the decommissioning sites, similar to the model used by many operating plant fleets.”

Every decommissioning site will have its own leadership team that reports to the same HDI corporate executive team and sufficient technical support from the CDI site organizations mainly made up of experienced incumbents, HDI officials said in the April 17 paperwork. If needed, those teams will be supplemented by Holtec and SNC-Lavalin resources.

HDI officials also noted the scope of licensed responsibilities at each decommissioning site will be less than that an operating nuclear power plant. The focus will be maintaining each facility in a safe condition, including storage, control and maintenance of spent nuclear fuel; possessing and disposing of radioactive material; decommissioning and decontaminating the site; and maintaining spent fuel pads until the spent nuclear fuel is removed from the site and the ISFSI is decommissioned.

The NRC earlier this month announced its intention to decide on the Oyster Creek license transfer application by July 1. If approved, HDI will assume responsibility for retiring the defunct plant. In its Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report for the Lacey Township-based power plant, the company highlights an accelerated schedule for the prompt decommissioning of and the unrestricted release of the site.

Those expedited plans do not include releasing the independent spent fuel storage installation, or spent fuel pad, on site. Holtec officials have said the company’s preferred method for decommissioning Oyster Creek was one in which equipment, structures and portions of the facility and site that contain radioactive contaminants are promptly removed and decontaminated to a level that permits termination of the license shortly after cessation of operations.

The Holtec report for Oyster Creek calls for the transfer of spent nuclear fuel to the dry cask storage to be finalized in 2023, providing for the complete dismantlement of the reactor and turbine buildings. Radiological decommissioning, according to Holtec’s plan, is expected to be completed by 2024. That would allow full release of the Route 9 site for other uses.

— Gina G. Scala

ggscala@thesandpaper.net

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