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Entergy to sell Indian Point reactors in New York to joint venture for decommissioning

Washington — The Indian Point-1, -2 and -3 nuclear reactors in Buchanan, New York, will be purchased and decommissioned "decades sooner" than if Entergy continued to own the units by a joint venture formed by Holtec International and SNC-Lavalin, Entergy and Holtec International said in a joint statement Tuesday.

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Entergy agreed to sell the 1,067-MW Indian Point-2 and 1,080-MW Indian Point-3 units, as well as transferring the reactors' operating licenses, spent fuel, and nuclear decommissioning trust funds to the joint venture, which will be called Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI), the companies said.

Indian Point-1 was shut permanently in October 1974 and Entergy selected the Safstor approach for decommissioning it. Under US Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations, power reactor licensees have up to 60 years via the Safstor option to complete decommissioning work and restore the site to a greenfield condition.

"As consideration for its transfer to Holtec of its interest in Indian Point Energy Center, Entergy will receive nominal cash consideration," the companies said in the statement.

Jerry Nappi, Indian Point's spokesman, said in an email Tuesday, "We are not disclosing the exact purchase price, as it is business-sensitive information at this time."

The sale of the three units will be effective upon the permanent shutdown of Indian Point-3, which will occur by April 30, 2021, exactly one year after Indian Point-2 is scheduled to be shut permanently.

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Entergy and the State of New York in January 2017 reached an agreement under which the company would withdraw license renewal applications filed with the NRC in 2007 that would have permitted Indian Point-2 to operate until 2033 and Indian Point-3 until 2035.

The units' operating licenses were due to expire in 2013 and 2015, respectively, but as they were filed in a timely fashion, they were permitted to continue operating while the regulator reviewed the applications.

The state agreed to support a short-term license renewal for unit 2 and unit 3, contingent on their early shutdowns.

CDI, a US-based joint venture formed in 2018 between Holtec and SNC-Lavalin, "plans to initiate decommissioning at Indian Point decades sooner than if Entergy continued to own the units," the statement said.

A specific timeline for CDI to complete decommissioning of the three Indian Point units will be revealed in the fourth quarter of 2019, when the company plans to submit a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report and a Site-Specific Decommissioning Cost Estimate to NRC, it said. Nappi said Entergy and CDI plan to file a license transfer application with NRC during the same quarter.

"The transaction closing is targeted for the third quarter of 2021," the statement added.

Neil Sheehan, an NRC Region I spokesman, said in an interview Tuesday, "license transfer reviews take on the order of a year" to complete, noting the agency "wants to make sure the new owner has the technical and financial wherewithal, and capability to safely decommission the facilities."

Entergy and CDI said in the statement they also will seek approval for the units' sale from the New York State Public Service Commission, as well as the state's Department of Environmental Conservation.

-- Jim Ostroff, Washington, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com