Gannett | THOMAS C. ZAMBITO, NEW YORK STATE TEAM
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday cited Holtec International for dipping into ratepayer funds meant for the teardown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant for $63,000 to sponsor baseball and softball teams, a golf outing and a high school fashion show.
The NRC said the payments “do not constitute legitimate decommissioning activities” and gave Holtec 30 days to respond to a violation notice.
Holtec has been told to reimburse the money taken out of roughly $2 billion in decommissioning trust funds it inherited after buying the lower Hudson Valley nuclear plant from Louisiana-based Entergy in May 2021.
The money in the funds come largely from fees collected from ratepayers during the plant’s 60 years of operation.
The payments turned up during an NRC review of financial records and interviews with company officials between July 2021, when Holtec took over the plant, and June 2023.
Where the $63,000 went
Among the organizations that received funding were a little league team, a girls softball team in the Town of Cortlandt, a fashion show at Hendrick Hudson High School, a golf outing and a parade.
“We take our responsibility as watchful stewards of the trust fund very seriously,” Holtec spokesman Patrick O’Brien said. “We are also deeply committed to our local communities we serve as part of the decommissioning process. It is in that spirit as a strong community partner that these charitable expenditures were made, as part of our regular community outreach and engagement activities. We take any violation very seriously and have already taken corrective actions to ensure the amount was restored to the trust fund, with interest, and that this issue does not recur with our future community and charitable contributions.”
The NRC also turned up an unspecified amount of decommissioning funds spent on lobbying New York state lawmakers, but chose not to issue a violation.
“The NRC determined that the lobbying efforts associated with keeping New York State legislators informed and educated about decommissioning issues at IPEC (Indian Point Energy Center) fall within the objectives in accordance with the definition of decommissioning...,” the NRC writes in a letter to Holtec president Kelly Trice.
Similarly, the NRC allowed Holtec to spend decommissioning funds for legal expenses associated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s spent fuel settlement efforts.
The DOE has agreed to pay the owners of nuclear power plants to store steel-and-cement canisters loaded with used nuclear fuel on their sites until an underground repository for the nation’s radioactive waste is built.
More bad news for Holtec
This is the latest setback for Holtec, which last month agreed to pay New Jersey $5 million in penalties to avoid prosecution over alleged misstatements made on tax-credit applications linked to its Camden, N.J. manufacturing hub.
The tax credits for Holtec and a related real estate firm were valued at $1 million.
Holtec denied wrongdoing, noting it agreed to settle the dispute “under threat of unfounded retaliatory criminal prosecution.”
And last year, the company sparred with environmental groups over its plan to discharge millions of gallons of radioactive water recovered from the plant’s spent fuel pools into the Hudson River.
In November, after Gov. Kathy Hochul sided with environmental groups by signing a law banning the release, Holtec said it would need more time to finish the teardown. Instead of demolishing the plant’s three reactors and other buildings on the 240-acre site by 2033, Holtec said it will need until 2041.
The radioactive water will remain on the site while Holtec weighs a legal challenge.
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Indian Point owner Holtec used ratepayer funds for sports teams, golf