Entergy Corporation announced it will be looking to sell Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth to Holtech International, a company they say is more experienced in nuclear decommissioning.
The plant has been named one of the country’s lowest performing powerplants, and now the Pilgrim nuclear plant is scheduled to officially go offline in June of 2019. But as it enters its final year, its owners are looking to sell the plant to Holtech International, which claims it can decommission Pilgrim in less time, and for less money than Entergy was proposing.
"What this proposal brings to the table is a firm with all the expertise; they’re going to do it on a timeline that is about as fast as these kinds of projects can be done," Mike Twomey, Vice President of External Affairs at Entergy said. "And they’re going to do it for what is available in the decomissioning trust fund."
But a full license transfer, as Entergy is looking to do, is not common for decommissioning nuclear plants. Until recently, the only proposed sale of a plant to a different company after decommissioning has been the Vermont Yankee powerplant, and their application is still pending with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A license transfer cannot happen before the regulatory commission approves the sale, which could take up to a year. Neil Sheehan of the commission said they’ll be reviewing Holtech’s application carefully.
"We’ve asked a lot of questions about how they’re financing would work and the kind of assurances they can offer that they’ll be able to cover all those costs and that’s something we’ve been looking at very closely and we’ll do the same in the case of Pilgrim," he said.
Critics like Mary Lampert of Pilgrim Watch, a watchdog organization, are skeptical. Though she’s happy that there’s a possibility the new company could decommission the plant more quickly and remove spent fuel from the site faster, she doesn't think it's possible for decommissioning to happen quickly, with less money, and for officials to also be mindful of safety.
"There are some real, real questions, and they’re largely financial," Lampert said. "They’re questions on whether this will be a cheap, quick and dirty cleanup, as opposed to what we want."
If the commission approves the sale, Holtech is expected to take over Pilgrim’s license starting in 2020.