With Entergy Corporation Planning to Transfer Indian Point License to Holtec International, Lawmakers Seek Information on How Holtec Plans to Carry Out Decommissioning Activities Once Indian Point Shuts Down Starting Next Year
Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) today sent a letter to Dr. Kris Singh, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Holtec International, demanding answers on how Holtec plans to carry out decommissioning activities at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York. Earlier this year, Entergy Corporation, the current owner of Indian Point, announced that it will sell the plant and seek to have the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license it to Holtec International. Indian Point is scheduled to permanently shut down starting next year, which will be followed by a process to decommission the plant and remediate and restore the property.
“As the Federal elected representatives for Indian Point and the communities surrounding it, we have a strong interest in providing oversight of the decommissioning process and believe protecting the surrounding communities should be paramount ,” saidSchumer, Gillibrand, and Lowey. “It is critical that the decommissioning process for Indian Point is properly carried out in a safe and transparent manner and that there is robust, good-faith engagement with federal, state, and local officials and the public every step of the way.“
The decommissioning trust fund is like a retirement account for a nuclear power plant that is funded by ratepayers. Every electron that the plant produces and sells over its lifetime has a small fee associated with it that is paid by ratepayers and deposited into a bank account where it accrues interest. Each individual plant has its own decommissioning trust fund and it is maintained by the plant’s owner. There are strict rules on how the fund is structured and ultimately utilized. The NRC requires that these funds are used only for decommissioning, although there are exemptions that the NRC can offer to plant owners who wish to use the funds for related activities, like nuclear waste management. These exemptions have been controversial in some cases and understanding Holtec’s intention for how to utilize Indian Point’s decommissioning trust fund is a key part of the members’ inquiry.
In their letter sent today, the members called on Dr. Singh to provide information on the following in order to ensure transparency in the decommissioning process and for communities in Westchester, Orange, Rockland, and Putnam Counties:
- Holtec’s plan to ensure Indian Point will receive the attention necessary for a swift and thorough decommissioning;
- What, if any, analysis has been done to determine possible contamination at Indian Point;
- Holtec’s plan for engaging with the public and the Community Advisory Board;
- What Holtec’s plans are for security and emergency planning during decommissioning;
- Whether Holtec will continue annual payments to the local taxing authorities in Westchester, Orange, Rockland, and Putnam Counties;
- Holtec’s plan for handling employment at Indian Point throughout the decommissioning process;
- How Holtec intends to use money in the decommissioning trust fund for Indian Point; and
- What the corporate and financial information will be for all subsidiaries and entities related to Holtec that will be involved with the decommissioning.
The full text of the letter to Holtec International President and CEO Kris Singh may be found here and below:
November 21, 2019
Dr. Kris Singh
President and CEO
Holtec International Inc.
1 Holtec Blvd.
Camden, NJ 08104
Dear Dr. Singh,
As the Federal elected representatives for the Indian Point Energy Center (Indian Point) and the communities surrounding it, we have a strong interest in providing oversight of the decommissioning process and the potential transfer of Indian Point’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license from Entergy Corporation to Holtec International. It is critical that the decommissioning process for Indian Point is properly carried out in a safe and transparent manner and that there is robust, good-faith engagement with federal, state, and local officials and the public.
It is our understanding that Entergy and Holtec intend to formally submit an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the license transfer in the coming days. In order to assist in our understanding of Holtec’s decommissioning plans for Indian Point, we are writing to request answers to the following questions:
1. Does Holtec intend to apply for any exemptions for the use of money in the Decommissioning Trust Fund for Indian Point for any activities outside of the scope of the prescribed uses for the trust fund, such as nuclear waste disposal or site restoration?
- If yes, has Holtec prepared a detailed cost estimate for the anticipated cost of all decommissioning activities? If so, please provide that cost estimate to us.
- Does Holtec intend to pursue any additional sources of funding or financing, including, but not limited to, from federal or states agencies, for any activities related to the decommissioning of Indian Point, the disposal of nuclear waste generated at the site, or the environmental restoration of the site?
- If yes, what is Holtec’s contingency plan if any or all of these activities incur cost overruns exceeding the Decommissioning Trust Fund?
2. Please describe each of the subsidiaries or companies affiliated with Holtec that will be involved in decommissioning activities at Indian Point and receiving funding from the decommissioning trust fund, as well as their legal status.
- If Holtec subsidiaries or other related companies will be involved in the decommissioning, please explain why Holtec believes that the involvement of such entities is necessary.
- What is the prior involvement of those companies with nuclear decommissioning activities in the United States?
- How does Holtec intend to demonstrate that these entities have the necessary capacity and competency to carry-out the safe decommissioning of Indian Point?
- Please provide us with information on the operating budget and revenue sources as well as the names and titles of the corporate leadership for each of those entities.
3. Holtec has recently purchased other decommissioned nuclear reactors and has made clear that the company’s business strategy is to decommission all units as a fleet in a manner that will save on cost. How does Holtec plan to ensure that Indian Point will receive the attention necessary to ensure a swift and thorough decommissioning?
- What is Holtec’s plan to ensure that this does not incur additional costs?
- How does Holtec plan to handle using the Decommissioning Trust Fund for Indian Point to cover costs associated with decommissioning, nuclear waste disposal and site restoration?
4. What assessments has Holtec done to determine possible contamination at Indian Point? Specifically, has Holtec performed or received from Entergy an analysis of on-the-ground site conditions?
- If yes, please provide that analysis to us.
- Also if yes, how has this informed Holtec’s plan for site restoration and what is the estimated cost?
- If no, what is Holtec’s plan to ensure that possible cost overruns from potential contamination are paid for if they do receive a waiver from the NRC to utilize the Decommissioning Trust Fund for site restoration but the costs exceed the Decommissioning Trust Fund?
5. What is Holtec’s plan for regular engagement with the public, including soliciting public input, conducting public meetings, and providing regular public notifications about decommissioning activities occurring at the site?
- How will that information be communicated to the public?
- Does Holtec intend to work with the Community Advisory Board and all other committees established to foster public input on the decommissioning?
6. What is Holtec’s plan for security and emergency preparedness at Indian Point during decommissioning?
- Please detail any exemptions from security or emergency planning requirements that Holtec intends to seek from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
7. Will Holtec continue the annual PILOTs (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) that Entergy has made to the local taxing authorities around Indian Point including the Town of Cortlandt, Village of Buchanan and Hendrick Hudson School District?
8. How does Holtec plan to handle employment at Indian Point? Specifically, how many Entergy employees have been offered employment, how many have accepted, and how many have rejected?
- Additionally, how many new hires does Holtec anticipate making to handle operations at Indian Point? How many of these will be hired locally? How many will be union workers?
- How many employees from other nuclear decommissioning activities will be transferred to Indian Point?
- Please provide a breakdown of anticipated workforce for every quarter going forward throughout the decommissioning, nuclear waste disposal, and site restoration process.
- In addition to the total, please segment this data into anticipated local employees, union employees, New York employees, and current and transferred non-New York based Holtec employees.
Thank you for your attention to our questions, and we look forward to receiving your prompt reply.