Environmental Groups: State Should Review Oyster Creek Sale

Photo by Chris Lundy

LACEY – With the impending license transfer of the Oyster Creek Generating Station to Holtec International Inc., further review is being urged by both local and state organizations.

The Clean Water Action campaign is requesting that the state attorney general further review the proposed transfer of the license and multi-million dollar decommissioning fund. Members of the NJ Sierra Club are also requesting of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) a public hearing on the license transfer.

It was announced earlier this year that Exelon Generation, owner of the plant, would be transferring the license of Oyster Creek over to purchaser Holtec International, a Camden-based dry cask storage manufacturer. The NRC is currently reviewing the terms of the sale to Holtec; a decision is expected to be made by May 2019.

However, in the meantime, Clean Water Action New Jersey is requesting that the Attorney General review the proposed license transfer after discovering that Holtec has partnered “with a Canadian energy giant reportedly facing corruption charges in that country,” according to a press release.

The Canadian company, SNC Lavalin, is reportedly facing with fraud and corruption charges.

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If the transfer is approved, Holtec would not only be taking over the plant but also the $982 million decommissioning fund as well as the decommissioning timeline, according to Clean Water Action. This also means that the new owner would gain access to multi-million dollar fund, nuclear materials and more than a million pounds of highly radioactive nuclear waste.

Photo courtesy Exelon

According to Janet Tauro, Clean Water Action, NJ Board Chair, “This is a state and national security issue…Every precaution must be taken to ensure that those nuclear materials do not fall into the wrong hands.”

Although the Attorney General cannot sway or alter the outcome of the proposed transfer, further review into the matter could “raise any red flags if public safety is at risk” according to Clean Water Action.

Jersey Shore Online previously reported that Holtec also plans on reducing the decommissioning timeline significantly, compared to the one outlined by Exelon and the NRC. The company aimed to complete the process in nearly half the time of the NRC’s 60-year plan.

“Holtec plans on using a “proto-prompt” technology approved by the NRC several years ago that allows for a quicker time frame for emptying highly radioactive fuel pools,” stated Clean Water Action in the release. “The company has proposed transporting the casks containing the highly radioactive waste across the country to an interim-storage facility in New Mexico that would also be owned and operated by Holtec. That facility is pending NRC approval.”

“This could be the best deal ever, or not,” stated Tauro. “Its complexity demands intense scrutiny to ensure public safety and not corporate gain.”

Members of the NJ Sierra Club agree with this, requesting that the NRC set up a public hearing that would allow for the public’s questions to be answered regarding the license transfer, transparency, cost, liability and dry cask storage technology.

“We don’t know enough about Holtec’s new dry cask storage design,” stated Jeff Tittel of the NJ Sierra Club.

There is no word on whether a date for a public hearing has been approved or set.