Holtec says it will decommission Oyster Creek decades ahead of schedule

Oyster Creek was New Jersey's first nuclear generation station, opened in 1967. It shut down in September 2018. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Oyster Creek was New Jersey's first nuclear generation station, opened in 1967. It shut down in September 2018. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The country’s oldest nuclear power plant is being sold to a company that will decommission it in the next eight years, decades earlier than required by industry protocols.

Exelon Generation announced Tuesday that Holtec International has agreed to purchase the Oyster Creek Generating Station, located about 60 miles east of Philadelphia in the Forked River section of Lacey Township. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission must approve the sale.

The company will contract with Camden, New Jersey-based Comprehensive Decommissioning International to decommission Oyster Creek within eight years, more than 50 years ahead of the industry-allowed 60-year timeline.

“This landmark agreement is good news for Oyster Creek employees, the Lacey community, and the state of New Jersey,” said Bryan Hanson, Exelon Generation’s chief nuclear officer. “Holtec’s commitment to the nuclear industry and its presence in New Jersey will allow many of our employees previously facing relocation to continue living and working in the Garden State.”

Holtec, formed in New Jersey and now has its headquarters in Jupiter, Florida, has submitted a license application for a facility in New Mexico to accept spent nuclear fuel from all plants in the United States, including Oyster Creek. The company says transporting all fuel to that facility would allow the company to return the site to unrestricted use.

Oyster Creek is scheduled to permanently shut down in September. The pending sale will not impact the closure. Exelon had previously announced that the decommission plan would cost $1.4 billion.

The plant went online in December 1969, the same day as the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station near Oswego, New York. But Oyster Creek’s original license was granted first.

The plant generates enough electricity to power 600,000 homes, or roughly all the homes in Monmouth and Ocean counties combined.

Exelon agreed to shut down the plant in return for not being required to build costly cooling towers requested by the state Department of Environmental Protection that would minimize the impact on fish and other marine life in the creek.

The Oyster Creek closure is on the state’s 10-point Barnegat Bay action plan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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