Nessel seeks to stop license transfer for closing SW Michigan nuclear plant

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Mar. 2—Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking to stop a license transfer of a southwest Michigan nuclear plant and fuel storage site near Lake Michigan due to concerns about the financial capabilities and "assurances" to decommission the facilities by the potential new license holder.

Nessel's petition filed last week with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeks to stop the license transfer request for the Palisades Nuclear Plant and Big Rock Point Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation, which are owned by Entergy Co., to Florida-based Holtec International.

The attorney general's petition also calls for a hearing in the case by the federal commission.

"Protecting the environment, the health and the pocketbooks of Michigan residents are part of my responsibilities as attorney general," Nessel said in a statement. "My concern is that by seriously underestimating the cost of decommissioning, site restoration and nuclear fuel management, coupled with a lack of appropriate financial assurances, Holtec endangers our environment and health, and potentially leaves our residents to bear the costs of proper clean-up."

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NRC officials revealed that Entergy, which is based in New Orleans, and Holtec filed an application seeking approval of the transfer of control of the licenses.

Entergy has said it wants to retire the Palisades Nuclear Plant in 2022. A trust fund of about $550 million was created with ratepayer funds to provide for the decommissioning of Palisades. Holtec seeks to use that fund to decommission the Palisades as well as handle the site restoration and fuel management cost.

The Nessel petition contends that Holtec does not "possess the financial qualifications or assurances necessary to complete such a risk-intensive project" and said that the company has "significantly underestimated the costs for actual decommissioning" that would threaten Michigan residents.

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant is in Covert Township and the Big Rock Point facility is in Hayes Township — all adjacent to Lake Michigan.

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