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NRC Approves 20-Year Oyster Creek License Extension

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today notified Exelon Nuclear that it has approved a 20-year operating license extension for the Oyster Creek Generating Station. 



FORKED RIVER, NJ (April 8, 2009) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today notified Exelon Nuclear that it has approved a 20-year operating license extension for the Oyster Creek Generating Station. 

"License extension for Oyster Creek equals energy stability and affordability for New Jersey residents," said Tim Rausch, Oyster Creek Vice President. "The Oyster Creek team takes a great deal of pride in providing safe, reliable, low-carbon energy - produced in New Jersey, for New Jersey - and now we are assured that we can continue to do just that."

Exelon scientists and experts have worked for more than four years to demonstrate that the Oyster Creek station can continue to safely generate more than 630 million watts of electricity.
Oyster Creek produces enough electricity to light up 600,000 typical New Jersey homes. In a single year of operation, Oyster Creek avoids 7.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that would be emitted by a replacement coal-fired plant. 

Since operations at Oyster Creek began, there has been over $1.2 billion invested in capital improvements designed to modify and enhance the capability of Oyster Creek for producing electricity safely and reliably. In the past three years alone, over $100 million in additional projects have been completed at the Oyster Creek plant site.

According to economics consultant Bates White in a report published in Aug. 2007, without Oyster Creek, New Jersey consumers would pay almost $200 million more each year for their electricity, which would reduce business competitiveness and cost New Jersey jobs.  Oyster Creek itself provides hundreds of high paying jobs and is a major economic driver for the local economy.  

"I am very pleased with this decision by the NRC to extend the operating license for Oyster Creek," said Mark Dykoff, committeeman, Lacey Township. "Oyster Creek has been a great neighbor for 40 years and plays an important role in providing essential jobs and low-cost electricity for our community."

Exelon Nuclear personnel collectively spent 93,000 hours preparing the 2,400-page license extension application that was originally submitted to the NRC on July 22, 2005. This process involved review of thousands of documents, a detailed review of historical equipment and component performance, and a rigorous review of the existing maintenance and engineering programs to ensure that the station is capable of maintaining plant systems over the extended license period.

As part of the review process, the NRC (and other bodies) held 12 public meetings, allowing for public input into the process. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) also conducted a two-day hearing on concerns raised by some citizens groups. The ASLB ultimately ruled that Exelon Nuclear's aging management program on the drywell was adequate.

Oyster Creek began operating in 1969. AmerGen acquired the plant from GPU Nuclear in 2000, and AmerGen Energy Company LLC was formally integrated into Exelon Generation on Dec. 23, 2008. The plant's original 40-year operating license was originally dated until April 9, 2009. The 40-year term for initial nuclear plant operating licenses was based on amortization schedules used by banks that financed large utility projects, not on safety, technical or environmental considerations. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, the original legislation authorizing civilian use of nuclear energy, permits nuclear power plants to renew their operating licenses.

Oyster Creek is subject to an ongoing, rigorous program of oversight and inspection by the NRC, led by two full-time inspectors at the station, as well as supplemental inspectors from the NRC regional headquarters. The plant has its own extensive programs in preventive and corrective maintenance, equipment testing and monitoring, and equipment replacement.

Exelon Nuclear operates the largest fleet of commercial nuclear energy plants in the United States and third largest in the world.

The Oyster Creek station is in Lacey Township in Ocean County, N.J., about 50 miles east of Philadelphia and 75 miles south of New York City.