United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Big Rock Point

1.0 Site Identification

Location: Charlevoix, MI
License No.: DPR-6
Docket No.: 50-155
License Status: Decon
Project Manager: Jim Shepherd

2.0 Site Status Summary

Big Rock Point is located in Charlevoix County, Michigan, approximately four miles northeast of Charlevoix, Michigan, and approximately eleven miles west of Petoskey, Michigan, on the northen shore of Michigan's lower peninsula. The BRP site is owned by Consumers Energy Company (CE). The BRP Nuclear Plant was a boiling water reactor rated at 75MW electric, designed by General Electric Company.

The plant was permanently shut down on August 29, 1997. Fuel was transferred to the spent fuel pool by September 20, 1997. On September 19, 1997, CE submitted a PSDAR that identified decommissioning activities commencing in September 1997, and concluding in September 2002. The licensee selected the DECON option. On March 26, 1998, CE submitted a revised PSDAR that showed conclusion of decommissioning about August 2005. Dry fuel storage will continue through 2012 or later, depending on when the DOE accepts spent fuel.

CE submitted a license termination plan (LTP) on April 1, 2003. After reviewing the responses to RAI's, and negotiating a memorandum of agreement with the Michigan State Historic Preservation Officer, NRC approved it on March 12, 2005. CE is currently decommissioning the site for unrestricted use in accordance with the LTP. All systems and structures not needed for the independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), except the intake piping and sanitary drainfield, have been removed. All remedial work has been completed and final status surveys will be completed by October, 2006.

All fuel was transferred to the ISFSI by March, 2003. Turbine building demolition and final survey occured during summer, 2005. The containment shell was removed in mid-2006. Final status survey reports and a request for partial site release are expected before the end of CY 2006.

After fuel is removed from the site to a DOE facility, the ISFSI will be decommissioned and the license terminated. CE plans for this to occur in 2012. The DOE recently announced that it may start accepting commercial fuel at the Yucca Mountain site in 2017.

Contaminants at the site include uranium and decay products, and fission products. Low levels of ground water contamination, primarily tritium, are non-uniformly distributed at the site because of a dry, silty clay layer that underlies only the south part of the site. Boundaries between the geologic units are only approximated because of limited subsurface data. Reported radionuclide concentrations in ground water are generally less than the minimum detectable activity (MDA) except for tritium that is less than one half the EPA drinking water standard of 20,000 pCi/l. Soil contamination is also generally below MDA.

For the BRP Nuclear Plant, Operating License DPR-6 Docket No. 50-155, and General Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) License Docket Number 72-043, events of significance are:

  • Provisional Operating License issued August 30, 1962

  • Initial Criticality achieved September 27, 1962

  • Initial Power Operation achieved December 8, 1962

  • Commercial Operation began March 29, 1963

  • Full-Term Operating License issued May 1, 1964

  • Power level increased from 157 MWt to 240 MWt May, 1964

  • Operation permanently ceased August 29, 1997

  • Fuel permanently removed from the reactor vessel September 20, 1997

  • Completion of site remediation on August 29, 2006.

The Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) was submitted in accordance with 10 CFR 50.82(a)(4) on September 19, 1997, along with other documents associated with decommissioning (Offsite Dose Calculation Manual, Defueled Technical Specifications, Defueled Emergency Plan, and Emergency Plan Exemption). On September 23, 1997, Consumers Energy notified the NRC of the permanent cessation of operations and the permanent removal of all fuel assemblies from the reactor pressure vessel and their placement into the spent fuel pool. Following the cessation of operations, Consumers Energy began decommissioning BRP. In 1997 the site name was changed from Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant to Big Rock Point Restoration Project.

As part of license termination, CE plans to release all parts of the site not required for ISFSI support in acordance with 10 CFR 50.83. CE completed site remedial work in summer 2006. Final status surveys will be completed in early fall.

Early in 2006, CE announced that the site, including the ISFSI, was for sale. In July, it announced that the BRP ISFSI will be a part of the sale of the Palisades facility to Entergy Corp., who will be required to obtain an NRC license for the BRP ISFSI operation.

3.0 Major Technical or Regulatory Issues

There is some public interest in the decommissioning of this site. The primary parties are the State of Michigan and the City Councils of surrounding areas. CE has an effective public outreach program and open communication with these parties.

The MI State Historic Preservation Officer delared the facility itself eligible for the National Historic Register. Therefore, demolition is defined as an adverse effect that requires a formal Memorandum of Agreement in accordance with 40 CFR 800. The MOA was negotiated to address the issues of early notification to SHPOs of NRC plans; documentation of the site using the Historic American Engineering Record System; and post-license termination access to the site by Native Americans, for whom the Big Rock is an historic gathering place. The MOA was executed by NRC, MSHPO and CE in February, 2006.

4.0 Estimated Date For Closure

12/30/2012

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012