The oldest nuclear power plant in the United States, the Oyster Creek Generating Station , nine miles south of Toms River, New Jersey, was taken offline Monday for the final time, making it the seventh nuclear plant to close in the past five years.
There are now 98 operating nuclear power plants in the country.Oyster Creek went on line on a fateful day for the industry: December 1, 1969, the same day that the Nine Mile Point Generating Station went on line in Oswego, New York. The New Jersey plant, a 625-MW boiling water reactor operated for 49 years, but owner Exelon Corp. was facing an estimated $800 million in upgrades, specifically a cooling tower meant to safeguard nearby marine life. With that mandate looming, Exelon announced in 2010 that it would close Oyster Creek, even though it had an additional 10 years seven months left on its federal operating license.
Along with Oyster Creek, Pilgrim, Three Mile Island, Duane Arnold, Davis Besse, Indian Point, Beaver Valley, Pallisades and Perry are also scheduled to retire within the next four years.
The upcoming retirements combined will remove more than 9,000 MW from the country’s generating capacity.
Exelon reached a tentative deal to sell the plant to Holtec International, which is building up its decommissioning business.
“Today, we celebrate the proud legacy of Oyster Creek and the thousands of employees who worked here and shared our commitment to safety and operational excellence for almost 50 years,” said Site Vice President Tim Moore. “Eventually these buildings will disappear, but the station’s legacy of safe, reliable operations, community involvement and environmental stewardship will never fade.”
The plant employed 700 workers full time until its last refueling. About 400 have worked at the plant in the past two years. Of those, about 300 are expected to stay on to work with Holtec on decommissioning the plant.
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