Oyster Creek Plant Begins Shutdown, Lays Off Workers

Photo by Chris Lundy

LACEY – The Oyster Creek Generating Station has officially begun the process of shutting down as Exelon Generation, the owner of the station, lays off the first group of workers.

Back in February, Jersey Shore Online reported that Oyster Creek announced the closure for October 2018, which was 14 months ahead of schedule and a decade earlier than they are licensed for.

In April, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a public hearing to inform members of the public of the decommissioning process, as the plant began the process of shutting down and removing spent fuel.

Exelon Generation has now begun making moves toward closure by filing a warn notice with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, stating that 84 employees will be laid off as of June 22, 2018.

At the time that the early closure was announced, Bryan Hanson, Exelon President and Chief Nuclear Officer said “We will offer a position elsewhere in Exelon to every employee that wishes to stay with the company, and we thank our neighbors for the privilege of allowing us to serve New Jersey for almost 50 years.”

Exelon Generation officials also noted that the earlier shutdown will give Oyster Creek employees a better opportunity to pursue other open positions within Exelon.

NRC officials remarked during the public hearing that the shutdown of the plant can take up to two years and the following dismantling and decontamination of the plant could take up to another 60 years.

Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant (Photo courtesy of Exelon)

Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said the following in a statement regarding the layoffs and shutdown:

“It’s important that they’re taking steps to close Oyster Creek because this plant has been an accident waiting to happen. What we’re concerned about is if there’s a just transition plan for the employees who work there. We’ve always called for the plant’s closure and we want to make sure the employees can find work at other facilities or take part in the plant’s decommissioning. We hope that the work at the plant will continue and the displaced workers will be treated fairly and given other work.”

“It will take a very long time for decommission to be completed including taking the plant apart, shipping off materials, and monitoring the safety concerns. It will take years, if not decades, for the rods to cool down enough to be put into dry-cast storage. Then the site must be monitored for a long time. There is money set aside for the closure of the plant, ensuring some jobs for a longer period of time.

“This is the oldest nuclear plant in the country and it’s falling apart. It leaks radioactive tridium, has problems with storage, and erosion with containment vessels, among other issues. The plant has been the biggest source of thermal pollution for the Bay with their super-heated water causing severe algal blooms. This plant was a disaster waiting to happen so it’s vital for our coast that it’s closing early. This plant is a dinosaur and it’s good that’s its going extinct. We’re glad Oyster Creek didn’t get an unnecessary subsidy to stay open.”