The nation’s oldest nuclear power plant will shut down in 2019 — 10 years before the New Jersey plant’s license expires.
Meanwhile, a power plant of the same age and design as the Oyster Creek facility will keep running.
Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Ocean County takes in millions of gallons of water daily from Barnegat Bay for cooling. It returns the water, slightly warmer, to the bay.
When the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection told the plant to upgrade to cooling towers, Exelon decided to shut the plant 10 years early rather than spend the $800 million it said the upgrade would cost.
Neil Sheehan of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the EPA delegates responsibility to the states to oversee the discharge permits of power plants.
“So when those permits expire, they go through a negotiation and review process with the various states and the states have to decide whether or not the plant should be required to build cooling towers,” he said.
There’s another nuclear plant in upstate New York that is identical to Oyster Creek. Sheehan said that plant has not been ordered to build cooling towers and will likely keep operating until 2029.
The water that is drawn in and used for cooling gases never comes in contact with radiation, but it’s returned to the water way a lot warmer than it was when it came in. The cooling towers prevent that problem.
“You’re now circulating most of this water through a cooling tower, which then basically cools down that steam and allows that water to be reused rather than having to continuously taking millions of gallons of water from the water way,” he said.
Some say the process of “once-through” cooling is responsible for killing billions of aquatic creatures because of the change in temperature