Still No Future For Oyster Creek

Photo by Chris Lundy

  LACEY – Although it’s been nearly a year since the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station was shuttered after more than five decades of operation, there won’t be any new businesses on the site for quite some time.

  That’s because it will take eight years for Holtec International, the current owner of the site, to decommission the 800-acre property off Route 9 South here.

  “Holtec has no immediate plans for the site at this time,” according a post on the company’s website. “As decommissioning proceeds further along, Holtec looks forward to partnering with the local community about possible future uses.”

  Holtec has already hosted and will continue to host future stakeholder information forums, to provide a regular stream of information regarding its decommissioning plans.

  Holtec is responsible for the decontamination and decommissioning of the plant. Company officials plan to move all radioactive materials away from the site by shipping the plant’s used nuclear fuel to an interim storage facility in New Mexico.

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  Until then, canisters with spent nuclear fuel will be safely stored at the Oyster Creek site under the custody of Holtec’s security organization, according to the company’s website.

  Oyster Creek was the oldest boiling water reactor plant in the United States. It went online on Dec. 1, 1969. The plant closed on Sept. 17, 2018, more than a decade ahead of schedule. Holtec International purchased Oyster Creek from longtime owner Exelon Generation in September 2018.

  Holtec’s principal business concentration is the nuclear power industry, dry storage and transport of nuclear fuel. Holtec is also a major supplier of special-purpose pressure vessels and critical-service heat exchange equipment such as air-cooled condensers, steam generators, feedwater heaters, and water-cooled condensers.

  “We will do as much as we can to continue providing an economic benefit to the community,” said Pierre Oneid, Holtec’s Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer. “The decommissioning project will draw an influx of specialized decommissioning personnel who will join the project at different stages, boosting the local economy.”

  Around 200 employees are expected to remain at the plant during the decommissioning process. The number of employees needed is based on the decommissioning strategy, according to Holtec.

  Several buildings at Oyster Creek have already been demolished and transformers on the site have been deconstructed and removed to improve the plant’s security profile. Many of the furnishings and materials inside the buildings have been donated to area nonprofit organizations, schools and civic groups.

  So what could help replace the power and business lost after Oyster Creek’s shutdown? 

  The Board of Public Utilities last fall gave Trenton-based Orsted permission to build and operate a 1,100 MV offshore wind farm 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. The wind farm could provide power for half a million homes and businesses, according to the Orsted website.

  “We commit to keeping local residents informed as we navigate the successful phases of our Decommissioning Program, earning their trust as an honest and truthful communicator, said Joy Russell, Chief Communications Officer for Holtec. “We are committed to keeping our decommissioning activities fully transparent at all times and sharing them with our host communities. Educating the local residents and policy makers in the art and science of decommissioning is a high priority for us.”

  Township Committeeman Peter Curatolo says the governing body is hoping for ratables – either businesses or residential – to replace Oyster Creek ratables. But since it will take a number of years to decommission the site, no companies have submitted any permits.

  Current businesses in town have already suffered due to COVID problems.

  “We have some businesses in our town that have died,” he said.