Fuel at former New Jersey nuclear plant removed from reactor
LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — The owner of what was considered to be America’s oldest nuclear power plant until its shutdown last week says it has removed the nuclear fuel from the reactor.
Chicago-based Exelon Corp. has notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it removed the last of the fuel rods from the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey on Tuesday.
The material was placed into a spent fuel pool where it will cool down for at least two years.
“A key focus in the next several years will be on the transfer of spent nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pool to dry cask storage,” said Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman.
The pool is 40 feet deep, with steel-reinforced walls that are several feet thick, and a stainless steel liner. The spent fuel is stored in metal racks at the bottom of the pool.
Water is circulated through the pool and through heat exchangers to keep it within specified temperature limits, and boron is added to the water to help inhibit nuclear fission involving the rods.
The fuel eventually will be placed into sealed concrete casks for longer-term storage on the grounds of the former plant in Lacey Township.
A Jupiter, Florida company, Holtec International, plans to buy the plant and move the fuel to an interim disposal site it is proposing in New Mexico.
Sheehan said the length of time that fuel must cool in the pool before being transferred to dry cask storage depends on the design of the cask. Most casks used to require about five years in the pool before that could take place.
However, Holtec now has cask designs that allow transfers to take place in about two years, he said.
With Oyster Creek’s shutdown, the Nine Mile Point facility near Oswego, New York is now the oldest currently operating nuclear power plant in the U.S., having opened in 1969.
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