An agreement announced Tuesday to sell the country's oldest nuclear power plant could result in the plant's being decommissioned in the next eight years, decades earlier than required by industry protocols.
Exelon Generation announced that Holtec International has agreed to purchase the nearly 50-year-old Oyster Creek Generating Station in southern New Jersey. Holtec was formed in New Jersey and now has its headquarters in Jupiter, Florida.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other entities including the state Board of Public Utilities must approve the sale before it is finalized. The transaction is expected to close late next year, according to Exelon.
Holtec said it will contract with Camden, New Jersey-based Comprehensive Decommissioning International to decommission Oyster Creek within eight years, more than 50 years ahead of the industry-allowed 60-year timeline.
The plan will be subject to NRC approval as well as public comment and review.
Holtec has applied for a license to operate a nuclear waste storage facility in New Mexico to accept spent nuclear fuel from Oyster Creek and all other nuclear plants in the U.S.
It is estimated that it will cost approximately $1.4 billion to shut down the plant. Exelon currently has $982 million of that set aside in a decommissioning account, according to NRC officials. That money will be transferred to Holtec once the sale is completed and will be used by Holtec to cover the cost of the decommissioning.
The trust fund was established decades ago to pay for decommissioning, and no additional funds from utility customers will be required, according to Exelon.
Oyster Creek is scheduled to shut down in September. It went online Dec. 1, 1969, the same day as the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station near Oswego, New York. But Oyster Creek's original license was granted first, technically making it the oldest of the nation's commercial nuclear reactors that are still operating.