HDI Harnesses New Technologies for Enhanced Decommissioning of Nuclear Plants

Members of Holtec International’s Decommissioning Advisory Board met on October 29, 2019 to assay advances made by the Company in its first year of decommissioning endeavors related to Oyster Creek (formerly Exelon’s) and Pilgrim (formerly Entergy’s) nuclear plants. This board is comprised of noted industry stalwarts representing many of North America’s leading nuclear operators.

Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI), a Holtec subsidiary, is the licensed operator for the plants that another Holtec subsidiary, Nuclear Asset Management Company (NAMCO), acquired as the licensed owner. NAMCO acquired both Oyster Creek and Pilgrim in the past year. HDI’s majority-owned subsidiary, Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI), is the general decommissioning contractor for the sites. The centerpiece of the Board’s deliberations was the array of innovative approaches developed by HDI and CDI to maximize efficiency, which will benefit personnel safety and minimize the quantity of radioactive waste as well as the Decommissioning Program’s environmental footprint.

From Left to Right: J. Scott Thomson (HDI), Tim O’Connor (Xcel Energy), Pierre Oneid (Holtec), Chris Cunningham (OPG), Dr. Kris Singh (Holtec), Christopher Bakken, Chair (Entergy), Pamela Cowan (HDI), Victor McCree (NRC-retired), Sandy Taylor (SNC Lavalin), Dominique Miniere (OPG-Canada), Kelly Trice (CDI)

The Board was impressed with a briefing on Holtec’s new generation of casks for nuclear waste that promise to reduce the number of transport packages by over 80%. This should be considered a great stride in environmental safety.

An in-depth discussion was held on HDI’s fleet model which focuses on public and worker safety, environmental stewardship, and respect for the community, and uses an integrated management structure and unifies the array of safety, operation, quality assurance and management procedures/practices informed by the lessons learned from operations at each site.

Discussion of innovative solutions to maximize the margin of safety in the hypothetical “zirc fire scenario” was another topic in which the Board was apprised. Holtec will look to deploy its newly developed zirc fire improvement strategies in the upcoming Palisades and Indian Point units. Among another major topic — where the attendees contributed valuable insights — was the efficacy of the security program, where HDI is evaluating innovative approaches.

Oyster Creek, which exited the zirc fire period just prior to July 1, 2019, is now undergoing a reactor segmentation process. Every metric of performance is being met or exceeded. A major achievement at Oyster Creek is Holtec’s successful efforts to leverage its highest capacity canister (MPC-89) to minimize the number of packages that will need to be moved (hopefully to Holtec’s HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in New Mexico) when the time comes. The plant’s leadership continues to meet regularly with local, state and federal lawmakers and community leaders to keep them abreast of the ongoing decommissioning activities. Oyster Creek has hosted several benchmarking groups from Taiwan, Japan and U.S. nuclear utilities, to share Holtec’s wisdom received from ongoing decommissioning work.

Pilgrim is still in the zirc fire window, which it will exit in March 2020. A multi-faceted action plan to execute decommissioning safely continues, while HDI engages with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to continue the open dialogue in the spirit of addressing their concerns.

Written by Amy Grant

Amy Grant is a graphic designer and web developer. She is the founder of the Southwark Historical Society, a volunteer based group that studies the Southwark Historical District located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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