FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant to Halt Production in 2016 or 2017

Neil Sheehan
Public Affairs Officer
Region I

The James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant has become the latest U.S. commercial power reactor to announce plans to cease operations by the end of the decade. Situated on Lake Ontario, the Scriba (Oswego County), N.Y., facility will permanently shut down either in late 2016 or early 2017, its owner, Entergy, said Monday.

fitzAs was the case with other plants that have previously disclosed shutdown plans, poor economics fostered by an abundance of low-cost natural gas was cited by the plant owner as a primary driver in the decision-making.

The NRC does not have a role in decisions made by plant owners on continued operations based on economics and other factors.

FitzPatrick, a roughly 840-megawatt boiling water reactor that came online in July 1975, joins these plants that will be closing in coming years: Pilgrim, in Plymouth, Mass., by June 1, 2019, and Oyster Creek, in Lacey Township, N.J., by Dec. 31, 2019.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, in Vernon, Vt., generated electricity for the last time in December of 2014. Entergy also owns Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee while Exelon owns Oyster Creek.

By contrast, an operating license was just granted last month to Watts Bar 2.

The NRC will continue to provide rigorous regulatory oversight of the FitzPatric facility. Our inspections will be focused on ensuring plant safety and security for the remainder of its operational life.

That oversight will include the ongoing presence of two NRC Resident Inspectors based at FitzPatrick on a full-time basis until the reactor is removed from service.

More information regarding the agency’s nuclear power plant oversight activities can be found on the NRC’s website.

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

18 thoughts on “FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant to Halt Production in 2016 or 2017”

  1. Thank goodness these plants of archaic design with aged, highly stressed materials will finally shut down. They are very dangerous, much more dangerous than newer plants. Others which should be closed ASAP include Ginna, Nine Mile Point 1 (with a record of multiple nuclear accidents), Arkansas Nuclear One 1 & 2 (one step short of mandatory shutdown on your Action Matrix), Indian Point 2 (far too close to New York City to be safe from terrorist risk), and Davis-Besse (responsible for extremely major safety violations, fined for criminally concealling evidence of damage). In fact, all reactors of obsolete pre-Three Mile Island 1970s designs should be retired soon.

    The UK has found that the vast majority of decommissioning costs stem from older reactors. The same is true in the US. These are the most shoddily designed reactors, and the most shoddily constructed, with the greatest risks.

  2. The black swan event is Pilgrim’s part 21 SRV bellows failure. The insanity is we assume it would leak before failure. The only reason a warning of a bellows failure in the control room is through the lessons we learned in TMI. Remember their PORV valve only showed if the solenoid was energized or not? It showed nothing if the valve was open or not. If the operators in the control room had direct indication of PORV valve flow, TMI wouldn’t have happened. Not getting a leak warning before failure such as in Pilgrim’s SRV part 21 bellows failure and the undiscoverable massive inop SRV setpoint tech specs inaccuracies in Fitz reminds me of the blindness with poorly instrumented up PORV valves just prior to TMI.
    Here in the Pilgrim’s part 21 the bellows failed without any warning. The bellows hi pressure warning. This guy was run for a full cycle in the plant. They removed it and sent it to a testing facility. Up at pressure on the stand or bringing to pressure they heard a pop. It was a bellows failure.
    I am here to tell you the quality and reliability safety component is extraordinary important in a nuclear plant. The quality of the information the control room has on the condition of components and plant processes in extraordinary important.
    Don’t even get me talking about gunslinger engineers who will tell anything you want for money?

  3. So the almost unimaginable would be a plant trip and no way to release heat. The SRVs and Safeties don’t work with the main steam lines shut. This is the worst case.

    The recirc line finally burst say at over 10,000 psi broken g. What is your guess?

    The Fukushima model, with extremely low probability of occurrence and unimaginable consequences…

    Remember Pilgrim was running with unimaginable three inop new to plant SRVs. All four 3 stage SRVS were inop before they even were installed in the plant for first time. The SRVs had some serious indication of leakage at the end, for years… Entergy and the NRC showed no curiosity at all with eradicating the SRV dysfunction early.

    Really, how far are we away from losing all SRVs or the SRVs and Safeties at a USA plant? Don’t think for a second all is clear with the PORV valves in the PWRs.

    If the slate was clean with just little problems with SRV valves, then the accident would be highly improbable. Close to impossible. But then you got the SRV/ ERV problems like Dresden, Quad Cities and Oyster Creek. All these SRVs/ERVs problems and the rest makes the specter of a reactor overpressure accident much more likely. Where did we hear the “normalization of deviance” before and what did it bring us? This is all “normalization of deviance” on steroids and its all documented in a government server. Doesn’t risk perspectives give permission for industrial strength “normalization of deviance”?

    I think risk of this is too complicated to calculate. Just Like Fukushima.

    Here is a question, would we still have adequate pressure protection with just the safeties operable?

    Yep, the safeties discharge to the drywell. Just like a LOCA on steroids. How long could we even see reactor vessel level with all the decay heat going out the safeties? How long would it take to get to 350 psig for LPCI? I hope HPCI and RCIC works? Say you saved the plant from damaged. You still destroyed the industry.

    See how hard this for the insiders to grasp this?

    *** back up, how did you get 10,000 ?

    safeties will probably work, but are much higher, like 1300.

    The problem is pressure

    it would cause RPV flange leaks,

    maybe blow out some packing and seals.

    So what would you feed the vessel with at 1300 psig? The CRD system.

    But you didn’t answer the question of how this scenario would play out without the SRVs and Safeties?

    Mike Mulligan
    Hinsdale, NH
    http://steamshovel2002.blogspot.com/

  4. OK, that 2% sounds pretty fair. When you say “real” rate of return, I assume that means 2% above the rate of inflation, please confirm then that it is 4%, with an assumed inflation target of the fed of 2%

  5. The utilities operating U.S. nuclear power plants are in the best position to discuss their costs for Fukushima-related safety enhancements. That being said, the staff estimates costs associated with the Mitigation Strategies Order are approximately $24 million/site; this Order was issued under the adequate protection justification and therefore costs were not considered. The staff estimates costs associated with the Severe Accident-Capable Vents Order are approximately $5 million/site ($2 million Phase I, ~$3 million Phase II); this Order was issued under the “substantial additional protection” justification [10 CFR 50.109(a)(3)], which takes costs into account. The staff estimates costs associated with the Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation Order are approximately $4 million/site; this Order was issued under a Commission exemption from the requirements of 10 CFR 50.109. The staff estimates voluntary industry initiatives associated with the lessons learned from Fukushima have totaled approximately $750,000/site. The proposed rule on mitigating beyond-design basis events includes a full regulatory analysis.

    Scott Burnell

  6. Decommissioning cost estimates are highly site-specific. In the case of the FitzPatrick nuclear power plant, a preliminary estimate is that about $1.1 billion would be needed for decommissioning work. However, Entergy will need to submit a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) within two years after the plant shuts down that contains more details. With respect to rate of growth, plant owners can take credit for up to a 2-percent annual real rate of return, a level that is conservatively set. A copy of the Master Decommissioning Trust Agreement for FitzPatrick can be found in the NRC’s online document system: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1005/ML100500726.pdf .

  7. These nuclear plants are the largest blunder every made by mankind. Taking care of the waste for thousands of years for production of a little electricity for a few decades is hardly a reasonable bargain. The plants — even if you ignore the cost of dealing with the waste — are not even close to penciling out from an economic standpoint. Right now, they are running about 2x the market price for power most of the time. Wake up!

  8. I never “got” that nuclear industry rule. In order to belong to the group “nuclear industry”, it was required you had to be a card carrying anti governmentalism guy?
    Mike Mulligan
    Hinsdale, NH

  9. Mr. Sheehan:

    Can you provide an estimate of the additional costs imposed on plants like Pilgrim and FitzPatrick as a result of regulatory changes made in reaction to the events at Fukushima? Are there future costs that must be absorbed as more requirements are phased in?

    Since the NRC is required to ensure that its regulations provide adequate protection and US nuclear power plants have an enviable safety record, did the NRC perform any cost benefit analysis to determine if the new requirements were justified?

    As I understand our current system, rules needed for adequate protection do not need cost justification, but rules added after adequate safety has been achieved must be justified.

    Please correct my impression if it is wrong.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

  10. Just out today: everyone wants to know why this is coming out six weeks late?

    SECONDARY CONTAINMENT DIFFERENTIAL PRESSURE EXCEEDED TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION ALLOWED VALUE

    “On September 22, 2015, with James A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant operating at 100 percent power, the Emergency and Plant Information Computer (EPIC) indicated a spike in Secondary Containment differential pressure during performance of a surveillance test associated with automatic initiation of the Standby Gas Treatment System. Plant data systems recorded Secondary Containment differential pressure exceeding the Technical Specification allowed value. The Secondary Containment differential pressure was at or above zero inches of water for approximately ten (10) seconds, and then immediately trended negative following auto-start of one of the trains of Standby Gas Treatment. An operator was subsequently dispatched to the ventilation control panel, and verified that Secondary Containment differential pressure was more negative than the Technical Specification allowed value.

    “This condition was entered into the Corrective Action Program, and subsequently, it was determined that the approximate ten second duration that Secondary Containment differential pressure was greater than the Technical Specification allowed value was reportable pursuant to 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(v)(C), as an event or condition that could have prevented fulfillment of a safety function. Secondary Containment was Operable following reestablishment of greater than or equal to 0.25 inches of water vacuum, and remains Operable.”

    Mike Mulligan
    Hinsdale, NH
    http://steamshovel2002.blogspot.com/

  11. Thanks Neil. Great explanation of the process.

    Please respond to:
    1) It seems like there are a lot of industry estimates that peg a plant recomission at around $2B.
    2) There is assumption of “growth” of the fund via investment, this leads to an assumption that dealing the decomissioning is “better” because the fund is allowed to grow.

    3) What rate of growth does the NRC allow plant owners to use in their future cash flow projections?

    4) Can we get a copy of the “standard of care” that Entergy has in the trust fund documents, and what is the name of their trust fund and what entity administers it?

    Thanks

  12. All U.S. nuclear power plants must provide updates to the NRC every two years on the status of their decommissioning trust funds. (Decommissioned plants must do so annually.) The latest update for the FitzPatrick nuclear power plant’s decommissioning fund was submitted last March. It indicates that the fund contained $738.34 million as of Dec. 31, 2014. If a fund does not meet the minimum criteria during our review of the updates, we require the plant owner to remedy the situation through a parent company guarantee or some other financial transaction. Our analysis of the latest submittal found the FItzPatrick fund was in compliance with the criteria.

    The funds are held in a trust and can only accessed with NRC approval. Under NRC regulations, the trustees for the funds are obligated at all times to “adhere to a standard of care set forth in the trust, which either shall be the standard of care, whether in investing or otherwise, required by State or Federal law or one or more State or Federal regulatory agencies with jurisdiction over the trust funds, or, in the absence of any such standard of care, whether in investing or otherwise, that a prudent investor would use in the same circumstances.”

    Decommissioning trust fund regulations and reporting requirements are spelled out in 10 CFR 50.75. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/cfr/part050/part050-0075.html

    The recent staff report on the status of decommissioning trust funds is available here: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1523/ML15237A367.html

    Also, now that Entergy has announced their intention to close FitzPatrick within the next five years, they must report annually on the status of their fund.

    Neil Sheehan

  13. @Mod—-How much money does Fitz have set aside for decomm?

    Is this money under their direct control, or is it safely escrowed, and all withdrawals must be approved ahead of time.

    Thanks

  14. RE: “The James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant has become the latest U.S. commercial power reactor to announce plans to cease operations by the end of the decade. Situated on Lake Ontario, the Scriba (Oswego County), N.Y., facility will permanently shut down either in late 2016 or early 2017, its owner, Entergy, said Monday.”

    Closing by the end of the “decade” is not late 2016 or even early 2017…

    What is a few years for Entergy at how many millions of dollars per year, oh I forgot the NRC is not worried about how much ratepayer money is spent, just operational “safety”.

    The Nuclear Industry uses the disconnect between cost to ratepayers (regulated by the State) and “Operational Safety” (regulated by the NRC) to game the system to their benefit since both Regulators tend to point their regulatory finger at the other one when any Utility issue come up. This became apparent in CA when SCE played one regulator against the other in order to coverup the CFR 10.59 loophole that SCE used to install in-house designed faulty replacement steam generators which failed soon after being installed, which is going to cost CA ratepayers billions of dollars instead of SCE’s shareholders!

    NRC Idea: Give Fitz an unscheduled special inspection with inspectors that are from outside that NRC Region and I bet Entergy will then decide, just like SCE did after #SanOnofreGate *) to close the facility early so as to avoid further NRC and public disclosures about the facility.

    * The new hashtag that will allow you to keep up to date on the ongoing investigation into the multi-billion $ SCE-CPUC ripoff.

  15. http://steamshovel2002.blogspot.com/

    Honestly, you are getting me laughing again, this so call better model is in Pilgrim right now. They took out the dangerous 3 stage and put back in the dangerous 2 stage SRV. Is it Entergy’s Irish black humor?

    LER: 2011-003-00: “Review of the as-found test results for eleven Safety / Relief Valve (S/RV) pilot assemblies removed and replaced during the September 2010 Refueling Outage, determined that five S/RVs were outside the allowable as-found tolerance of 1145 psig +/- 3% (+/- 34.3 psig) required by Technical Specification (TS) Surveillance Requirement (SR) 3.4.3.1. “Also, two of the eleven S/RVs tested were found to have excessive seat leakage to the point where as-found testing could not be performed.”

    I’ll bet you right now Fitz, Pilgrim and Hope Creek are in an ignored required tech spec shutdown right now! Be shutdown within 24 hours requirement. It is as if the NRC got their eyes and ears closed. They got too many SRVs inop.

    Think of all the good people in these below documents that walked by this without a peep? All these highly technically educated and experienced employees?

    References
    1. JAF Condition Report CR-JAF-2015-02493, Root Cause Evaluation, Seven S/RV Pilots Failed As-
    Found Testing
    2. JAF Condition Report CR-JAF-2013-04098, Two S/RV Pilots Failed As-Found Testing.
    3. JAF Condition Report CR-JAF-2007-02108, Root Cause Analysis Report, Seven of ten S/RV pilots failed as-found testing (testing high out of tolerance).
    4. JAF Technical Specification 3.4.3
    5. JAF Technical Specification Bases 3.4.3

    Fitz is too crooked and deceptive to be at power right now.

  16. Another aging nuclear dinosaur relic bites the dust. Do feel bad for those utility professionals who will lose their jobs. How many NRC folks will lose their jobs?
    The real good part of the announced Fitzpatrick closure is that it has the same inferior BWR Mark I containment structure that failed to contain much of anything during the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Did you know that not only Entergy but other owners of Mark I containment structures in the US fought the NRC in making an important safety upgrade that was mandated in Japan after Fukushima. A filtered containment vent was required on all identical BWR containment structures in Japan before any plant there could be restarted. The NRC has caved once again to US nuclear power plant owners by not requiring such a filtered vent on US plants.
    I just wish that once the NRC Commissioners would actually put public safety ahead of trying to preserve the economic viability of the US nuclear industry.
    It is also interesting to note that these unsafe older nuclear plants cannot compete with low-cost natural gas. A lot of that natural gas is coming from the fracking of shale deposits that are abundance in the US. The environmentalists are happy, of course, with every nuclear plant shutdown. Even though we lose a carbon-free source of 24/7 power each time that happens. Environmentalists though hate fracking too. Even though natural gas burns cleaner than coal. You can be assured, though, that any technological breakthrough that is good for our economy; reduces our carbon footprint; creates jobs for Americans; and greatly reduces our dependence on foreign oil, has to be opposed by tree-huggers!

  17. http://steamshovel2002.blogspot.com/

    You can see how safety conscience the NRC is through this LER. The NRC was recently whining in a Fitz inspection report about Entergy not calling a leaking SRV rate conservative. The leak rates limits used by this industry and Energy are set too high to prevent SRV setpoint pressure drift. Duh! There is outright malicious fraud all over the industry with the 2 stage and 3 stage safety relief valves and the NRC doesn’t use their power to put a stop to it.

    To be even more funny, Fitzpatrick wants to go to the death star Pilgrim’s 3 stage SRVs where Entergy removed these from the plant because they were unsafe. Pilgrim and Fitz, I make the case also, Hope Creek, all their SRVs are all identical models. They all got abhorrent LER and operational records. Honestly, Entergy must have a since of dark humor.

    How can the history of Fitz’s SRVs setpoint drift not be adverse to quality? How can you not predict a majority of the time when a plant is in operation…that plant operation is prohibited by plant licensing and tech specs? It is not safe and acting conservatively the majority of the operational time. This is the tip of the iceberg.

    https://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/main.jsp?AccessionNumber=ML15212A272

    LER: 2015-002: Safety Relief Valve Upward Setpoint Drift

    “Since seven of the eleven pilot valves were not within the allowable setpoint tolerance, a condition prohibited by the plant’s Technical Specification existed during operating Cycle 2”

    I’ll bet on the second SRV going inop the plant is required to be shutdown.

    This is basically a heavy indicator Entergy is dishonest and deceptive. Entergy doesn’t tell us how many SRVs need to be fully operational per tech spec. They neither disclose the actual setpoint lift pressure which failed the valve. All of the other plants disclose this information in their atrocious setpoint drift LERs.

    Come on, think about all the Inop SRVs in in this below list? Never once called adverse to quality and openly contested by the NRC. Never once bothered to make these guys fix these dangerous and unreliable valves.

    Similar Events
    1. JAF LER-11-003 “Safety Relief Valve Setpoints Outside Allowable Tolerances,” August 8, 2011
    2. JAF LER-09-005 “Safety Relief Valve Setpoint Drift,” June 22, 2009.
    3. JAF LER-07-001 “Safety Relief Valve Setpoint Drift,” August 6, 2007.
    4. JAF LER-05-002 “Safety Relief Valve Setpoint Drift,” June 6, 2005.
    5. JAF LER-03-002 “Safety Relief Valve Setpoint Drift,” October 16, 2003.
    6. JAF LER-01-005 “Safety Relief Valve Setpoint Drift,” August 17, 2001.
    7. JAF LER-99-003 “Safety Relief Valve Setpoint Drift,” March 16, 1999.

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