Oyster Creek licence renewed to 2029

09 April 2009

Exelon's Oyster Creek nuclear power plant - the oldest operating in the USA - can continue operating after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) renewed the plant's operating licence.

Oyster Creek (Exelon)
Oyster Creek (Image: Exelon)
The Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey began operating in December1969 as the first large-scale commercial nuclear power plant in the USA. Its single boiling water reactor (BWR) produces 636 MWe net.
AmerGen, a subsidiary of Exelon Nuclear, submitted its application to the NRC for the renewal of Oyster Creek's operating licence in July 2005. The original licence for plant was due to expire this month, but the NRC has now extended the licence for a further 20 years, until 9 April 2029.
The NRC said, "The decision to renew the licence comes after thorough and extensive safety and environmental reviews of the application." It added, "The application was also reviewed by the NRC's Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS), an independent body of nuclear safety experts that advises the NRC, and was the subject of an adjudicatory hearing by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB), a quasi-judicial arm of the NRC that handles licensing matters. Challenges to the ASLB's decision were addressed on appeal by the commission itself."
Eric Leeds, NRC's director of nuclear reactor regulation, commented, "This has been the most extensive licence renewal review to date, including the first adjudicatory hearing of a licence renewal application."
He added, "The staff's licensing and inspection scrutiny, along with the independent contributions of the ACRS, the ASLB and various citizen groups, should give the people of New Jersey added confidence that Oyster Creek will remain safe during its continued operation."
As a result of these reviews and proceedings, the licence includes several conditions and requirements that AmerGen has committed to performing to ensure that the plant continues to operate safely. These included commitments related to aging management programmes to manage the aging effects of structures and components both prior to and during the period of extended operation.
Oyster Creek is the 52nd US nuclear power reactor to have its operating licence renewed by the NRC. Thirteen other applications are currently under review.