The Palisades nuclear plant in Covert, Michigan.

COVERT, MI – A Southwest Michigan nuclear power plant has taken another step toward eventual shutdown and decommissioning planned for 2022.

Entergy Corporation and Holtec International submitted a license transfer application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requesting approval to transfer the licenses for the Palisades Nuclear Plant to Holtec following its shutdown and permanent defueling in spring 2022.

Holtec’s filings detail its plan to complete the dismantling, decontamination and remediation of Palisades to regulatory commission standards by 2041. That is more than 40 years sooner than if Entergy continued to own the facility and selected the maximum 60-year NRC SAFSTOR option for decommissioning, according to a news release issued by both companies.

Related: Entergy plans to keep Palisades nuclear plant operating through 2022

There are currently about 600 employees at Palisades. As part of the pending deal, Holtec committed to offering employment to all Phase 1 employees — about 260 people — said Jerry Nappi of Entergy.

Employees who do not apply for and accept positions within the Phase 1 organization have the opportunity to remain with Entergy if they are willing to relocate, Nappi said. Other remaining plant employees will separate from the company when Phase 1 begins, he said.

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

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

Related: Palisades nuclear plant on Lake Michigan seeks approval for repairs

Holtec’s schedule calls for the movement of all spent nuclear fuel from the onsite spent fuel pool to dry cask storage at Palisades by 2025.

“Major decommissioning work will commence in approximately 2035,” the news release states.

After the shutdown, the fuel will remain on site indefinitely, “until the federal Dept. of Energy honors it’s contractual agreement to move the fuel to a permanent or interim facility,” according Joe Delmar of Holtec.

Holtec is currently pursuing an NRC license for a proposed interim facility in southeastern New Mexico, Delmar said. If approved and built, Holtec could move the fuel from Palisades and other plants there. The license decision is expected mid-2021 and, if granted, a facility could be built and available by 2024 or 2025, he said.

If the license transfer 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 Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey from Exelon Corporation to Holtec and for the shutdown Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts from Entergy to Holtec, and the transfer of the Indian Point Energy Center from Entergy to Holtec following shutdown of its remaining unit (Indian Point Unit 3), which is scheduled for April 2021.

Entergy Corporation is an energy company, and owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including 8,000 megawatts generated by nuclear power.

Holtec International is a privately held energy technology company with operation centers in Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in the U.S., and globally in Brazil, Dubai, India, South Africa, Spain, U.K., and Ukraine. Holtec’s principal business concentration is in the nuclear power industry.

By Brad Devereaux