Oyster Creek sale speeds decommissioning

31 July 2018

Holtec International is to purchase the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant from Exelon, the companies have announced. Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI), a joint venture of Holtec and SNC-Lavalin, will be responsible for decommissioning the plant from 2019.

Oyster Creek (Image: Exelon)

The agreement, announced on 31 July, will see Holtec assume ownership of the New Jersey site, "real" property and used nuclear fuel. The purchase is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approvals. As the site's owner, Holtec will manage all site decommissioning and restoration activities at the plant, which is due to shut down later this year. The companies have not revealed a purchase price.

CDI will perform the decontamination and decommissioning of the plant under a contract awarded by Holtec, in its role as the new owner of the plant. The New Jersey-based joint venture was established earlier this month and aims to provide accelerated decommissioning of nuclear power plants, using innovative technologies to release plant sites - with the exception of on-site dry storage for used fuel - within eight years.

CDI said it will seek to perform the decommissioning faster and more cost effectively than the original decommissioning plan proposed by Exelon Generation. Holtec is to submit a new decommissioning plan for review and approval by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a process that will also provide opportunities for public review and comment.

"We have taken our first major step forward today in building CDI's decontamination and decommissioning business," Mark Morant, SNC-Lavalin's president for US Nuclear, said.

As part of the sale agreement, CDI will offer employment to many of Oyster Creek's existing employees on completion of the transaction. "This project is vitally important to the local community in the Lacey Township region and we look forward to accelerating the safe clean-up of the shuttered nuclear plant site to restore most of the land to unrestricted use and in the shortest time possible," Holtec International President and CEO Krishna Singh said.

Funds from Oyster Creek's decommissioning trust will be transferred to Holtec on closing of the transaction, and will be used to cover the cost of decommissioning. No additional funds from utility customers will be needed, the companies said.

Oyster Creek has been in commercial operation since December 1969, making it the joint oldest operating power reactor in the USA alongside Nine Mile Point unit 1. Although licensed to operate until 2029, Exelon decided to retire the plant early after revisions to New Jersey water use rules would have required it to build new cooling towers at an estimated cost of over USD800 million. The plant had been scheduled for closure at the end of 2019, but the company in February announced it was bringing forward the closure to the autumn of 2018.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News