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Riverkeeper reaches agreement to ensure prompt and safe decommissioning at Indian Point

In conjunction with the State of New York, local municipalities, and the Public Utility Law Project, Riverkeeper has reached a provisional agreement with Holtec International and its subsidiaries (Holtec) regarding the decommissioning and cleanup of the Indian Point nuclear power facility in the Lower Hudson Valley. The joint proposal is subject to approval by the New York State Public Service Commission. If approved by the PSC, the agreement would transfer ownership of the nuclear power facility to Holtec, which would be responsible for the swift, complete, and safe decommissioning and remediation of the facility and site.

We believe this is the most comprehensive agreement in the nation regarding decommissioning, providing strict State oversight of Holtec, a robust financial assurance package, and commitment to complete environmental remediation. It backstops inadequate NRC oversight with robust state oversight and ensures the public will stay informed about how the decommissioning is progressing. It also allows the decommissioning to start promptly, so that we can now look forward to a new productive use for the Indian Point site within 15 years.

The joint proposal is now available for public comment and is slated to be voted on by the PSC on May 13

This joint proposal regarding the proposed license transfer is intended to comprehensively address the many concerns about Holtec. Under the agreement, Holtec is required to adhere to a slew of financial and administrative provisions, including: 

  • Maintaining a minimum balance of no less than $400 million in the Decommissioning Trust Fund for 10 years following the Transaction Closing Date and $360 million from then to partial site release from the NRC.
  • Requiring Holtec to return at least 50 percent of the money it recovers from the Department of Energy for spent fuel management costs to the Decommissioning Trust Fund and up to 100% if the minimum balances are projected to be breached.
  • Conducting site restoration and remediation under an order on consent with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Radiological contamination will be cleaned up to the state standard of 10 mrem, instead of the federal standard of 25 mrem and Holtec will provide a $110M bond to ensure the job is completed. DEC will oversee the hazardous materials cleanup at Indian Point, including through the use of an on-site monitor.
  • Providing $75,000 annually towards the NYS Department of Public Service oversight’s efforts for the first six years following Transaction Closing Date.
  • Providing funds for state and local emergency management and response. 
  • Providing regular financial and project reporting to the state and local entities, and maintaining a website to facilitate public access to information and ensure transparency regarding project status and costs, and
  • Completing the transfer of spent nuclear fuel from IP Unit 2 and 3 spent fuel pools by Dec. 31, 2024 absent a Force Majeure event, with projected Partial Site Release by the end of 2036.
  • Paving the way for the State to establish a Decommissioning Oversight Board, which Holtec acknowledges the State has the right to do and agrees to provide information on request.
  • Notifying the state in advance of any work that will be conducted close to the AIM pipeline, a major fracked gas pipeline that runs under the site, and
  • Agreeing not to propose a new reactor at Indian Point unless the State and all the local municipalities agree.

In exchange for Holtec’s commitment, the New York Office of the Attorney General, Riverkeeper, the Town of Cortlandt and the Hendrick Hudson School District will withdraw their appeals of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approval of the license transfer, which are pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Riverkeeper believes the oversight and financial conditions in this agreement will protect New Yorkers and create a solid foundation for the decommissioning process, and is proud to be part of its formation. For this reason, we are willing to accept the proposed license transfer despite our many concerns against the license transfer to Holtec and the NRC’s lax oversight. However, we also recognize that this protection only exists so long as the joint proposal is properly executed. Riverkeeper remains committed to fulfilling our role as a signatory to ensure Holtec’s promise of a safe, efficient, and thorough decommissioning and site remediation under this agreement becomes a reality. We will continue to watchdog the implementation of this agreement and expect to be a member of the Decommissioning Oversight Board.

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