LACEY — The sale is finally complete. Oyster Creek Generating Station has officially changed hands from Exelon Generation to new owner, Camden-based Holtec International. The purchase was made complete on Monday, July 1.
Oyster Creek Generating Station officially closed its doors and powered down its operations on September 17, 2018. One of the oldest nuclear power plants in the country, Oyster Creek was in business for nearly half a century.
“For 49 years, the plant safely and reliably powered more than a half-million homes and businesses with carbon-free energy,” stated Exelon Generation.
Prior to the completion of the sale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved the transfer of the plant’s operating license to Holtec subsidiaries Oyster Creek Environmental Protection, LLC (“OCEP”), as owner, and Holtec Decommissioning International, LLC, as operator (“HDI”), for decommissioning.
With the help of the OCEP, Holtec Decommissioning International will oversee decommissioning, another word for the dismantling of the plant. While Exelon’s original decommissioning plan laid out a timeline over 60 years, Holtec plans to complete the process and have the land ready for reuse in just 10 years.
“Our primary goal is to decommission Oyster Creek safely and with the community’s best interests in mind. Many of the excellent plant staff will join our exceptionally qualified engineers as we set a new bar in decommissioning excellence,” said Holtec President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Kris Singh.
According to Holtec, their new spent fuel storage systems will allow them to speed up decommissioning by transporting radioactive fuel into storage casks years earlier than originally planned. The spent fuel will be moved into an onsite dry storage facility called an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI). While the ISFSI used to take five or more years, Holtec’s new dry storage system will cut this time in half, taking only 2.5 years, according to the company.
Holtec is currently working on licensing a consolidated interim storage (CIS) facility called HI-STORE in New Mexico where the spent fuel will be stored. In the meantime, spent fuel from the plant will be stored in casks on the Oyster Creek property.
“Protecting the health and safety of employees, the community and the environment has been a central focus for Oyster Creek throughout its operating history,” Holtec Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Pierre Oneid said. “This will continue throughout decommissioning with safety being the focus in everything we do.”
While residents still have reservations about safety, township officials have welcomed the quicker decommissioning process.
“Holtec has been open and transparent in communicating with us and we look forward to supporting and working with them to do what’s best for our community,” stated Lacey Mayor Tim McDonald in a press release.
As their partnership comes to an end, officials from now-former owner Exelon Generation made sure to extend thanks to all Oyster Creek employees.
“We thank all Oyster Creek employees – past and present – for their dedication to safe operations and now, safe decommissioning. Together with Holtec, they are ideally positioned to complete decommissioning safely and swiftly,” stated Bryan Hanson, Exelon Generation’s chief nuclear officer.