The Northern Westchester Examiner

Plans in Works to Relocate Spent Fuel Rods at Indian Point

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Plans are underway to possibly relocate the spent nuclear fuel rods currently housed in dry casks at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan.

Indian Point
Indian Point Nuclear Power Station (Getty Images)

During an Indian Point Decommissioning Oversight Board meeting at Linda Puglisi Town Hall in Cortlandt earlier this month, Erica Bickford, Acting Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, said the fuel rods could be transferred “by the next decade.”

“By prioritizing communities and people, we believe we can find a solution for the decades-long stalemate on managing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel,” Bickford said.

Holtec International, which is in charge of decommissioning the Indian Point site, has a pending application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in New Mexico, which could eventually store spent nuclear fuel from Indian Point and other U.S. nuclear power plants.

There are 74 commercial nuclear reactor sites in the United States. Twenty of them are closed. There are currently 69 spent fuel rods secured at Indian Point, with 127 expected by the end of 2023.

Steve Maheras, a nuclear engineer with the Department of Energy, said eight potential transfer locations near the plants in Buchanan were evaluated in July. The only options to move the fuel roads are either by heavy haul trucks to rail or barges to rail.

If the rods are relocated, it’s estimated to take “several years” to complete, according to Bickford.

“At this stage of the game, we’re all about options,” he said.

Unit 3, the last operating power plant at Indian Point, shut down on April 30, 2021.

Earlier this year, the State Legislature passed two bills allowing spent nuclear fuel roads at Indian Point to be taxed as real property.

In 2020, legislation, introduced by Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, was signed into law that allowed the pools where spent fuel cools and dry cask storage to be recognized as real property.

In 2017, Entergy, New York State, and Riverkeeper stunned local officials when they announced the two operating nuclear reactors at Indian Point would close.

According to Riverkeeper, as part of the decommissioning plan, wastewater being discharged from the site is expected to end within a few years after spent fuel transfer and the removal of internal reactor components are complete.

“Until then, while the radiation levels are well within NRCs standards, Riverkeeper continues to monitor the situation carefully in our watchdog role that strives to ensure a timely decommissioning that at which point, will end all radioactive discharges,” Riverkeeper stated.

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