The office of the New York Attorney General has announced reaching a provisional agreement with Camden, New Jersey-based Holtec International and its subsidiaries regarding the decommissioning and cleanup of the Indian Point nuclear power facility, which is about 25 miles north of New York City.
The joint proposal is subject to approval by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) and was negotiated by the state of New York, environmental organizations, Entergy — the utility that owns Indian Point—and Holtec.
If approved by the PSC, the agreement would transfer ownership of the nuclear power facility to Holtec, which would be responsible for “the swift, complete, and safe decommissioning and remediation of the facility and site,” according to the attorney general’s office. The PSC vote is schedule for May 13, with a public comment period preceding it.
Decommissioning, the radiological cleanup and dismantling of a nuclear facility, “is extremely demanding, both technically and financially,” says a press release issued by the attorney general’s office.
Of approximately $2.4 billion of aggregated decommissioning trust funds that have been accrued, Holtec estimates it will spend more than $630 million for spent fuel management alone. The state legal office has spent the past year researching and negotiating with Holtec to ensure its process was adequately funded and budgeted to complete the effort.
“We have worked hard to ensure that Indian Point is dismantled and cleaned up responsibly and safely,” says Attorney General Letitia James. “Once fully approved, this agreement will result in a safer, faster, and more thorough decommissioning process that exceeds stringent federal standards. We will continue to work diligently to see this closure through with an eye toward the safety of millions of New Yorkers.”
In 2017, Entergy agreed to close the two remaining and operating nuclear reactors at Indian Point. Unit 2 powered down in April 2020, and Unit 3 is scheduled to cease operations at the end of April 2021. In November 2019, Entergy and Holtec filed an application for license transfer with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
This joint agreement regarding the proposed license transfer “is intended to ensure that adequate funds are available to complete the project subject to state oversight,” according to Attorney General James’ office.
“To ensure the safety and security of our communities, the dismantling of Indian Point must be completed in an expertly managed manner,” says New York State Senator Pete Harckham. “If the decommissioning process is done too hastily, radioactive contamination of the environment is a distinct risk. Today’s announcement will go a long way toward guaranteeing both a detailed and methodical dismantling process and a complete cleanup of the site.”