Oyster Creek: After 2019, what then?
For people who had lived in the shadow of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey for decades, the news in 2009 that it was to close 10 years earlier than allowed under its license extension was warmly welcomed. Finally, the health and safety threats posed by the plant would be coming to an end.
Well, not really — at least no time soon.
That “good news” has been tempered by the fact plant owner Exelon, which agreed to mothball the reactor in exchange for the state not requiring it to install cooling towers, has up to 60 years to remove the 650 metric tons of spent fuel from its elevated spent fuel pool, totally dismantle the plant and clean up the site.
A Nuclear Regulatory Commission rule change in 2011 extended the period in which closed nuclear reactors were allowed to decommission from 30 years to 60 years. Although Exelon has yet to establish a timetable for when that will be done, the company’s president and CEO, Christopher Crane, has said it will be no sooner than 10 years, as stipulated in its agreement with the state, and up to 60 years.