LACEY – The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant will be shut down for good in October – more than a year ahead of schedule – in a surprise announcement Friday by plant owner Exelon Generation, which cited costs and other issues.
The accelerated timeline caught officials of the overseeing Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the town of Lacey off guard. Officials for both told the Asbury Park Press they were surprised by the news.
Township Administrator Veronica Laureigh said Lacey didn’t learn of the early shutdown until Friday. She downplayed the immediate impact, though Lacey officials in recent months have stepped up efforts to plan for the loss of the plant, which supports about 500 jobs directly and pumps about $80 million into the local economy.
“Even though they stopped operating, they’re physically going to stop producing energy, they’re still here for a minimum of 10 more years,” Laureigh said.
Some employees will stay on after the shutdown and work on decommissioning the plant, according to the announcement. The number of workers to be retained was not set forth in the announcement.
However, a resident inspector will remain at Oyster Creek for at least several months after the shutdown to monitor the transition, Sheehan said.
“We require that the decommissioning process for a nuclear power plant must be completed within 60 years,” he said.
That means Exelon has until 2078 to fully decommission the plant.