Indian Point nuclear plant Unit 3 is down for its last refueling and maintenance. (Entergy)

BUCHANAN, NY – Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear power plant Unit 3 began its 20th and final refueling and maintenance outage Monday morning. Unit 2 had its last maintenance and refueling outage last year.

The company plans to sell the nuclear plant complex in 2019.

“Entergy is actively working on a transaction for Indian Point that we could announce any time between now and the end of the year,” spokesman Jerry Nappi said Monday. “This is consistent with our previous statements that we expected to pursue a transaction at Indian Point similar to what we’ve announced at the Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim, and Palisades nuclear power plants. The transaction at Indian Point would not close until after the plants shut down.”

In January, Entergy sold Vermont Yankee to subsidiaries of NorthStar Group Services, which will decommission the nuclear power station site. The sale was a first-of-its-kind in the nuclear power industry – a permanent ownership and license transfer to a company that is slated to perform timely and efficient decommissioning and site restoration. The sale had been announced in 2016.

The plan worries local activist Courtney M. Williams, who posted on Peekskill-Cortlandt Patch’s Facebook page: “They are gonna sell it to highest bidder and walk away. We’ll be left with a company that wants to decommission it as cheaply and quickly as possible- not the best, safest way possible. They’ll fire everyone and bring in contractors to work for cheap. At the last Cortlandt Unity Task Force Meeting Power Through Cortlandt asked Entergy, point blank, if they would make it a stipulation of the sale that the buyer had to keep on the currently employees. They said they wouldn’t. We need a Citizens Oversight Board to watch dog this or we’ll get screwed.”

In January 2017, Entergy announced its plan for the shutdown of Indian Point Energy Center as part of a settlement of lawsuits with New York State and Riverkeeper. In exchange, New York State agreed to drop its legal challenges and support renewal of the operating licenses for the facility. Entergy agreed to permanently cease operations at Indian Point 2 by April 30, 2020 and Indian Point 3 by April 30, 2021. 

Municipal and school officials are scrambling to deal with the loss of the plant. Entergy is half of the village of Buchanan’s tax base, one-third of the Hendrick Hudson school district’s annual tax base, pays $1 million a year to the town of Cortlandt and pays Westchester $4.5 million a year in lieu of taxes. It employs close to 1,000 people.

They’re also concerned about what will happen to the site after decommissioning: what can be repurposed and what will be done to store the spent nuclear fuel forever.

As of Dec. 31, 2015, the Indian Point 3 decommissioning trust fund contained about $683 million.

Entergy is investing over $70 million in the plant during this refueling outage, something company officials said demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment to Indian Point through permanent shutdown.

“The investments we are making at Unit 3 over the next several weeks demonstrate Entergy’s continued commitment to the highest standards of safety and reliability,” said Tony Vitale, site vice president and Entergy’s top official at Indian Point. “Our dedicated employees, whether they have worked at the site for four years or 40 years, are focused on making the last refueling our best ever. The nearly 60-year history of safe and reliable operations at the site is our legacy.”

Officials said about 900 skilled tradesmen and women contract workers will supplement nearly 1,000 Entergy employees during Unit 3’s outage to complete the refueling and other maintenance projects, which include:

  • reactor head inspections
  • comprehensive baffle bolt inspections (on a removable liner inside the reactor)
  • reactor coolant pump seal replacements
  • laser scans of the reactor head seal seating surfaces
  • multiple pump and motor replacements
  • emergency diesel generator preventive maintenance

Entergy has invested more than $1.3 billion in safety and reliability enhancements at Indian Point over the past two decades to ensure the generation of hundreds of millions of megawatt hours of nearly carbon-free power. Through philanthropic support, volunteerism, and environmental stewardship, Entergy has donated tens of millions of dollars to local
community organizations throughout the region.

By Lanning Taliaferro