Oldest US Nuclear Plant Closing

Exelon Generation Company has filed a plan to close the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant with the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Oyster Creek nuclear plant is located in Lacey Township, New Jersey and is the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the United States. Exelon Generation is a utility company, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

Exelon Generation estimates it will cost US $1.4 billion to close the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant. The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant will be shutdown and defueled by September 30, 2018, subject to the NRC approval of Exelon Generation’s plan. The spent fuel rods will then be stored in wet pools for five years and then moved to dry storage at a federally approved facility. It will take sixty years for the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant to be fully decommissioned by the NRC.
Most of the nuclear power plants were built from 1970 to 1990. Construction of nuclear reactors in the United States began to slow in the late 1980s due to modest growth in electricity demand and increasing construction costs.

The United States Atomic Energy Commission implemented stringent new safety measures following the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident. The new safety measure significantly increased construction costs for all new nuclear power plants. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident also increased growing anti-nuclear sentiment among the general public.

Nuclear power capacity has slowly declined as plants have been closed or retired. In 1990, there were 132 operating nuclear reactors in the United States. Today, there are 99 operating nuclear reactors. The Oyster Creek nuclear reactor and six additional nuclear reactors are scheduled to begin the decommissioning process by 2025.

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