Oyster Creek, America’s oldest nuclear plant, shuts down
Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, America’s oldest nuclear power plant, has shut down after nearly 49 years.
Officials at the Lacey Township plant say that it went offline at noon Monday. The plant was considered near the end of its useful life.
“I had one wish that the plant would stay. It's been a good partner with Lacey Township,” says Mayor Nicholas Juliano.
Juliano says that the plant employed many Lacey Township residents over the years.
Oyster Creek 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 still operating.
Former site vice president Mike Roach worked at the plant for three decades before retiring.
“This was a plant that taught the industry worldwide how to operate a nuclear plant so it's very important historically,” Roach says. “I think the employees got a lot of benefits of learning from others as well as their own work."
The plant has dealt with corrosion and leaks during its time in service, but its owner, Chicago-based Exelon Corp., says the plant has always been safe.
Exelon Corp. agreed to close the plant by the end of 2019 - rather than construct cooling towers seen at most other plants required by federal environmental standards. Oyster Creek used water from the Barnegat Bay to cool.
Fuel rods will now be removed from the reactor and placed in a fuel pool for several years under the direction of Camden-based company Holtec. It is estimated to take about a decade for the entire site to be decontaminated and ready for other uses.
Oyster Creek officials say that many of the plant’s employees will transfer to other jobs with Exelon Corp., while others are set to retire.
There are now 98 nuclear power plants operating in the U.S. following Oyster Creek's closure.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.