18 Sep (NucNet): Operators took the Oyster Creek nuclear reactor unit offline for the final time at 12:00 local time yesterday, making it the seventh nuclear unit to be retired in the US in the past five years, owner-operator Exelon said.
The 619-MW General Electric boiling water rector unit began commercial operation on 1 December 1969, making it the oldest commercially operated nuclear power plant in the US.
Exelon said that over the next few weeks, workers will remove the reactor’s fuel supply and store it safely in the station’s used fuel pool. After that, workers will begin preparing the station for dismantlement and long-term decommissioning.
In July, Exelon announced the conditional sale of Oyster Creek to Holtec International, the used nuclear fuel management technologies company. Once the sale is completed, Holtec International will manage all site decommissioning and restoration activities with the goal of full decommissioning within eight years.
Oyster Creek was previously expected to retire on 31 December 2019, but its retirement was accelerated by more than a year to coincide with the plant’s fuel and maintenance cycle.
When Oyster Creek’s initial 40-year licence expired in 2009, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted the plant a 20-year licence renewal. However, in 2010 an agreement was reached between Oyster Creek’s owner-operator Exelon and New Jersey state environmental regulators to retire the plant in 2019.
Among the factors affecting this decision were local water safety concerns and estimated costs of more than $800m to install cooling towers to meet new environmental standards.