By Paul Gunter
“It’s clear that Oyster Creek and the entire, aging U.S. nuclear reactor fleet is hemorrhaging financially,” Gunter said. “The fact that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the nuclear industry continue to prioritize financial margins over public safety margins is a growing concern, especially at the remaining 29 Fukushima style reactors still operating in the U.S.,” Gunter continued.
“None of our country’s Fukushima-design reactors should have operated for even one more day once we saw the catastrophic events publicly unfold worldwide at Fukushima,” Gunter said.
In June 2013, the NRC issued an Order requiring the U.S. fleet of Mark I (22) and Mark II (8) reactors to upgrade their containment systems with a hardened venting system that would deliberately vent the extreme pressure, heat and radiation from a severe nuclear accident.
“Following the three explosions at the Fukushima nuclear reactors, the NRC finally admitted that this containment design doesn’t work,” Gunter added. “And yet the agency has been utterly delinquent in ensuring that the safety upgrades the NRC itself ordered have been made at our country’s most dangerous nuclear power plants.”
Oyster Creek was granted a license extension to continue operation until 2029, but Exelon announced in 2010 that it would close on December 31, 2019. However, after issuing the 2013 Fukushima related Order, the NRC conceded to Oyster Creek’s request for a waiver from complying, allowing the plant to avoid the vent installation until January 31, 2020, one month after the reactor would have closed. Oyster Creek was supposed to have complied with theOrder following its September 2016 refueling outage.
“Beyond Nuclear is appealing a long-standing Freedom of Information Act request, that the NRC has stonewalled, demanding to know how the agency allowed the country’s oldest Fukushima design reactor to avoid this essential safety upgrade required by the NRC’s own Order,” said Gunter.
“The October 2018 shutdown narrows the window for potential disaster a little more but it remains outrageous that the NRC had allowed Exelon to gamble with the lives of people in New Jersey for almost five more years, ignoring its own Fukushima Lessons Learned report and Order,” Gunter said.