Oyster Creek's Community Information Night 'Informative'
Patch gets the answers to your questions.
Residents of Ocean County learned about spent fuel, radiation, public safety and more at Oyster Creek Generating Station’s annual Community Information Night on Wednesday evening.
“This is always a good event,” plant spokesperson Suzanne D’Ambrosio said. “We tried this year to bring more of the community into it…There’s really such a solid commitment here to the community. Community Information Night is a small way to give back.”
Approximately 40 Exelon representatives and technical experts utilized interactive displays and activities to provide information on nuclear energy topics including plant operations, emergency planning, security, safety, used fuel storage and environmental protection.
“Every table has the people who work at the plant who have the expertise,” D’Ambrosio said. “They’re eager to volunteer because they want to show off what they do. They have a lot of pride.”
Residents were able to talk to the representatives one-on-one as well as take a tour of the simulator, which is an exact replica of Oyster Creek’s control room and is used for training.
“The control room is the nerve center of the plant,” D’Ambrosio said. “It simulates any event that would happen. It’s really neat.”
The event also featured tables for nonprofit organizations that partner with Oyster Creek, including United Way of Ocean County, the American Cancer Society, the Lacey Chamber of Commerce and environmental groups.
Community Information Night is a voluntary event, not required, Mayor Mark Dykoff said.
“If they make the effort to have it, I should make the effort as mayor and liaison to Oyster Creek to be here,” he said, adding that the company addresses issues “head on.”
Meri Jayne Bray is fairly new to Ocean County, having lived in Barnegat for just a year and a half.
“I just wanted to be more rest assured that (Oyster Creek) was safe,” she said. “They addressed all the issues. It was very informative.”
Bray’s main concern was the excess waste and spent fuel storage, she said. “It seems like it’s in good hands.”
“The people were very knowledgeable and well experienced. They had all the answers,” said Ron Trinder of Waretown, who showed the same concerns in spent fuel. “We’re interested in what happens.”
Neil Schurig of Waretown lives right on the outlet and attends Community Information Night annually.
“I want to see if anything has changed and see how the iridium leak is going,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing they (hold) it. Every time I come, I learn something different.”
Schurig used to work at a utility facility and understands the rules and operations, he said. “They play by the rules.”
But Schurig is also still concerned that the spent fuel will be stored on site for many years to come.
“I’m a little disappointed in our government,” he said of the decision to halt the construction of a nuclear fuel repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. “It would be nice to get the fuel rods out of here.”
Shurig added that he would like to see a gas turbine facility replace Oyster Creek’s generation upon the plant’s closure in 2019.
Earlier this week, Lacey Patch asked members of the community to submit their questions for Oyster Creek representatives. Below are your answers:
How long does spent fuel need to stay in a constantly cooled pool of running water with its own dedicated power sources and back up generators, before it cools off enough to be transported to a facility?
“It stays at the facility,” Reactor Services Engineer Liliana Sulca said. “Right now, they never leave the site.”
The plant has 560 fuel assemblies in the nuclear reactor that are 12 feet long.
The assemblies are cooled for approximately six years before being transferred to casks. Once evaluated, one-third of the old assemblies come out and another one-third of new assemblies go in.
Once transferred to the cask, the fuel assemblies remain for about 10 years and are again evaluated.
Then, the fuel assemblies will remain on site for long-term temporary storage.
Click the following links for more information on spent fuel storage:
Will, and if so, when will the public be able to see your decommissioning plans?
Members of the public are considered stakeholders in the decommissioning process, Radiation Protection Technical Manager Kevin Wolf said.
“They will be intimately involved,” he said.
There will be avenues for the public to learn about the decommissioning process and have their input, D’Ambrosio said, although, its only in its infancy stages.
“Plans for decommissioning is in and of the public interest,” she said. “But right now, our focus is operating the plant.”
Oyster Creek has until 2019 to submit a decommissioning plan, Scott Bernell of the NRC previously said.
According to the NRC, the decommissioning process can take anywhere from seven to 60 years after closing and may cost $300 million or more.
Click the following links to learn more about the decommissioning process:
What is the feasibility of constructing a new, modern power plant with cooling towers and up-to-date safety systems on the current site?
Decommissioning achieves a level to return the property for normal use, Wolf said.
“As nuclear plant’s age, that will become more popular,” he said, using Maine Yankee as an example. The plant began its decommissioning in 1997 and completed it in 2005.
Radiation Dosimetry Specialist Bob Heffner said that the purpose of the decommissioning process is to bring the land to Greenfield status, restored to the conditions existing prior to the construction of the plant.
Each person is exposed to 300 millirems of radiation each year naturally, Heffner said. It has been reported, that living on the land where a plant was formerly located would only add an additional 25 millirems of radiation annually.
With the proper infrastructure already in Lacey, it would be feasible and “makes sense” economically to consider the construction of a new plant, Wolf said.
Currently, a feasibility study is being done for the land behind the power plant.