N.J. forms panel to oversee Oyster Creek decommissioning operations

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

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

A newly established panel will monitor the ongoing decommissioning operations at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station and solicit public input, New Jersey officials announced.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe established the Oyster Creek Safety Advisory Panel to evaluate Holtec International’s work on the Lacey Township site and the obligations it assumed when it acquired the nuclear plant from Exelon in July 2019. The plant went offline last September.

In a prepared statement, Gov. Phil Murphy said the panel will provide assurances to the public that the decommissioning work is compliant and allow community input.

“Providing the public with an opportunity to participate in the robust public input process is critical to ensuring transparency during the decommissioning process,” he said.

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The panel, which will meet at least twice a year, will consist of McCabe, the New Jersey State Police Superintendent, the Director of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and the Board of Public Utilities president. Additional details about the panel’s operations are in development, officials said.

The announcement comes after more than 150 people attended a town hall to grill representatives from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Holtec International in late August.

Many questions focused on Holtec’s assertion it can decommission the plant in six to eight years thanks to new technology and streamlined processes. Exelon had proposed a 60-year timeline.

While power generation at the plant is in the past, the Danish offshore wind company Ørsted secured rights from the New Jersey Board of Utilities in September to connect its proposed “Ocean Wind Project” farm 15 miles east of Atlantic City to the facility for regional energy distribution.

Nicholas Pugliese contributed to this report. 

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