50 years of electric power generation come to an end for Palisades - Herald Palladium

50 years of electric power generation come to an end for Palisades – Herald Palladium

TWP cover. The Palisades nuclear power plant was shut down for the last time on May 20, ending half a century of providing electricity to energy consumer customers.

Now, the daunting task of removing fuel and decommissioning the large plant and its surrounding buildings begins.

Florida-based Holtec International, a leading nuclear power plant decommissioning company, will purchase the Palisades facility in July to begin the process of safely storing spent nuclear fuel in dry drums at the plant site, then dismantle and remove the Palisades reactor and other buildings on the property. It is approximately 430 acres off the Blue Star Highway.

“The timeline is roughly 19 years,” said Pat O’Brien, Holtec’s Senior Director of Government Affairs and Communications.

The company plans to hire 260 current Palisades employees to move the entire amount spent to dry storage first into drums on a closed concrete pad, a process that is expected to last 3 years. The plant and property would then remain idle for approximately 10 years to allow the financial growth of a trust set aside to pay for the decommissioning of Palisades. As of March, Holtech reported that it had set aside $539 million in its Palisades Trust Fund for Nuclear Decommissioning.

Sometime around 2035, the shutdown will continue over the next six years with demolition of the reactor and other buildings, proper disposal of any components used in the nuclear power process, proper removal of any pollutants on the property, and restoration of the 430-acre site. To allow for future development.

“Nineteen years may seem like a long time, but with other stations being shut down, the process can take even longer,” O’Brien said.

The cost of decommissioning the reactor facility could cost anywhere from $280 to $600 million, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Authority. The funds are used to cover the costs of burying radioactive waste and the correct handling, storage and control of spent fuel.

According to O’Brien, the security fence and security force will remain in place as long as the barrels remain in position. Palisades officials reiterated Holtec’s commitment to monitoring dry drum rigs.

“The fuel used will remain secured on site, under guard, monitored during shutdown and shutdown activities, and subject to NRC oversight until it is removed by the US Department of Energy, in accordance with its legal obligations,” the company said in a news release. Release.

What will happen to the Palisades property after 19 years is anyone’s guess. A number of South Haven residents wondered aloud if a new power plant could be built there.

That’s a possibility, O’Brien said. Holtec is considering building a small reactor plant at the site of the closed Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in New Jersey. The Holtec small modular reactor is currently in the testing phase.

Closing the barriers is a “commercial decision”

Entergy Corp., which has owned the Palisades plant since 2007, made the decision in 2017 to begin the process of shutting down the old plant.

“It was a business decision,” said Daryl Corbin, Vice President of Palisades. Since Palisades is a “commercial” power plant, the sale of its fuel is put up on the open market for companies to bid on. In 2016, Entergy was unable to reach a suitable purchase price agreement from Consumer Energy for power generation beyond 2022.

“The closure of Palisades coincides with the expiration of the 15-year power purchase agreement with Consumers Energy, which was a condition for the purchase of Palisades in 2007,” Energy officials said in a press release. “The Palisades sale will complete Entergy’s planned exit from the nuclear power business, following the closure and sale of the Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim and Indian Point plants and the sale of the working James A. Fitzpatrick plant.”

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For half a century, the Palisades has employed a workforce of 600 at any one time (more during refueling outages), contributed millions of tax dollars to local government units, and was a generous sponsor of many non-profit groups.

The plant shut down May 20 after generating electricity for 577 days since last refueling — a world record location and production for a plant of this type, according to Entergy officials. The plant continues to be ranked #1 in the US Nuclear Re-Governance Commission’s safety category, and is considered by its peers to be one of the best performers in the industry.

For Corbin, it was the Palisades who made it all possible.

“This is the legacy of the Palisades,” he said. “The factory is where a group of people came together to make Palisades special. Everyone here is a leader.”

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