Shutdown Planned for Palisades Nuclear Plant on West Side of State

The Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert, Mich. (south of South Haven) is slated for shutdown following an acquisition.
Palisades Nuclear Plant
The Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert, pictured, is slated for shutdown more than 40 years earlier than planned following its acquisition by Holtec International. // Photo courtesy of Entergy Corp.

The Palisades Nuclear Plant in Covert, Mich. (south of South Haven) is slated for shutdown following an acquisition.

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. and Florida’s Holtec International, through their affiliates, jointly submitted a License Transfer Application on Wednesday with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requesting to transfer the NRC licenses for the plant to Holtec following its shutdown and permanent defueling in the spring of 2022. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Holtec’s plan to safely accelerate the Palisades decommissioning schedule by more than four decades provides the potential for site redevelopment much sooner than if Entergy continued to own the facility after shutdown,” says Chris Bakken, executive vice president nuclear operations and chief nuclear officer at Entergy. “The completion of major decommissioning activities on an accelerated timeframe is important to the local community, which could benefit from economic opportunity at the site.”

Holtec’s filings detail its plan to dismantle, decontaminate, and remediate Palisades to NRC standards by 2041, more than 40 years sooner than if Entergy continued to own the facility and selected the maximum 60-year NRC SAFSTOR option for decommissioning.

As part of the agreement, Holtec will provide job opportunities for about 260 of Entergy’s employees who work at Palisades. Entergy previously announced a plan to find positions in its company for qualified employees who are willing to relocate.

The application also requests approval of the license transfer of Entergy’s already decommissioned Big Rock Point facility near Charlevoix, where only an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation remains.

Following NRC regulatory approval and transaction close, Holtec will assume ownership of the site, its Nuclear Decommissioning Trust fund, real property, and used nuclear fuel. It will also assume ownership of the Big Rock Point property and used nuclear fuel.

In addition to the License Transfer Application, Holtec submitted to the NRC a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report and Decommissioning Cost Estimate, which describe Holtec’s plan, schedule, and cost estimate for Palisades. Holtec also submitted an exemption request to allow the use of the Palisades for spent fuel management and site restoration activities.

Holtec’s schedule calls for the movement of all spent nuclear fuel from the onsite spent fuel pool to dry cask storage on the Palisades by 2025. After all spent fuel is safely moved, major decommissioning work will begin in about 2035.

If the transaction is completed, Palisades and Big Rock Point would join Holtec’s growing fleet of decommissioning plants. The NRC previously approved License Transfer Applications for the shutdown of Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey from Exelon Corp., the shutdown of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts from Entergy, the transfer of the Indian Point Energy Center from Entergy following shutdown of its remaining unit, which is scheduled for April 2021.