Holtec International has reached a positive agreement with Lacey Township regarding the prompt decommissioning of the former Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station. The agreement allows Holtec to proceed with safely moving the station’s remaining spent nuclear fuel from the plant’s spent fuel pool into dry cask storage on the onsite Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI). The two parties have agreed to adopt enhanced communication measures to prevent future misconceptions that had strained our relations with the Township and led to a legal action.
The agreement between Holtec and Lacey Township represents our efforts to work together to address the concerns of the local community. The agreement seeks to establish close communications and unfettered dialog throughout the fuel loading campaign as well as the overall decommissioning project at Oyster Creek. We believe that a cordial relationship with the Township will create a trusting business environment which may lead to developing non-polluting enterprises at the Oyster Creek site for the betterment of the local communities,” says Holtec’s SVP, Chief Strategy and Communications Officer Joy Russell.
Holtec formally completed the acquisition of Oyster Creek from Exelon Generation in July 2019. Prior to the acquisition, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) had approved transferring the plant’s license to Holtec, concluding that the Company met the regulatory, legal, technical, and financial requirements necessary to qualify as the successor licensee.
Upon taking ownership, Holtec began the prompt decommissioning of Oyster Creek. Over the past 18 months, Holtec’s decommissioning team has demolished six support buildings and a number of storage tanks; completed segmentation of the reactor vessel internals ahead of schedule; dismantled and removed transformers; and completed dozens of other activities with no safety issues.
With the start of the fuel loading campaign now allowed to proceed, Holtec’s prompt decommissioning of Oyster Creek can continue as scheduled. Over the next year, Holtec will safely load Oyster Creek’s remaining spent nuclear fuel into 33 robust dry cask storage systems to be placed on the ISFSI. After completing this major activity, Holtec can then proceed with segmenting the reactor pressure vessel and begin demolition activities on remaining structures like the former intake structure as well as the former turbine and reactor buildings.
Holtec plans on completing decommissioning activities by 2025 and requesting partial site release from the NRC with the sole exception of the on-site used fuel storage, which must remain at the site until the US Government takes possession of it (which they are required to do under a 1982 law) or an alternative location, such as Holtec’s prosed HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) becomes available. As required by federal regulations and reinforced in the agreement, the ISFSI can only store Oyster Creek’s spent fuel and not spent fuel from other nuclear plants or facilities. Holtec was invited by the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance to establish a below-ground CISF in Southeast New Mexico. The HI-STORE CISF is undergoing licensing by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); final approval by the NRC is scheduled to occur in mid-2021.
Reflecting our entrepreneurial spirit, Holtec has developed the safest possible CISF design using its own funds, called HI-STORE CISF, which envisages storing the used fuel below the ground, that the company has successfully demonstrated at two nuclear sites. The subterranean fuel storage technology underlying HI-STORE CISF, expressly developed, in the wake of 9/11, is widely considered to be the last word on public health and safety. Conceived for deployment in the high arid plateau of southeast New Mexico, HI-STORE CISF enjoys strong public support in the host region. Due to be licensed by the USNRC, after marathon safety and environmental reviews, HI-STORE CISF will offer a supremely safe and secure centralized facility for storing spent nuclear fuel on an interim basis allowing sites like Oyster Creek to be de-fueled entirely.
We hope that other communities and states will join the Lacey Township, which has signaled its support for Holtec’s efforts, to remove spent fuel from their territories. Holtec also supports Lacey Township’s application for a redevelopment grant with regard to the Oyster Creek property.
“The agreement reinforces our commitment to work together with Lacey Township to ensure that Oyster Creek’s decommissioning is completed safely and efficiently,” said Kelly Trice, President of Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI), a Holtec subsidiary, which is the general contractor for the day-to-day decommissioning activities at Holtec’s fleet of decommissioning plants. “We remain committed to protecting public health and safety and the environment, as we continue our efforts to clean up the site, so that it can be repurposed to re- industrialize the site thus benefiting the local community.”
“I am glad that we have reached an amicable agreement with Holtec regarding the decommissioning of Oyster Creek,” said Lacey Township Mayor Steven Kennis. “We hope to build a lasting, long term relationship with Holtec that will bring a positive benefit to all the people that live and work in Lacey.”