Oyster Creek plant discharge permit renewed

TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection has issued to the Oyster Creek nuclear plant a pollutant discharge renewal permit.

The permit is issued under the condition the plant follows the agreement negotiated last year by the state and Exelon Corp. to close by the end of 2019.

The permit, which goes into effect in April, allows Oyster Creek to continue to withdraw reactor cooling water from the Forked River and discharge it into the creek.

The permit incorporates the conditions of a 2010 Administrative Consent Order  between Exelon Corp. and the DEP which calls for Exelon to cease operations by the agreed date of 2019, even though its federal operating license expires in 2029.

“The early closure of the Oyster Creek plant is a major win for the long-term health of the Barnegat Bay ecosystem,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin in a release.

As a result of Exelon’s commitment to terminate operations no later than Dec. 31, 2019, the DEP determined that closed-cycle cooling is not the best technology available given the length of time that would be required to retrofit the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant and the limited lifespan of the facility.

The facility’s physical constraints also limited the location and types of closed-cycle systems that could be installed. Relocation of major water piping systems and the security perimeter also would be necessary, officials said.

While administration officials cited the benefit of the earlier-than-usual closing, one environmental advocated, New Jersey Sierra Club Executive Director Jeff Tittel, said there will still plenty of harm being done.

“The DEP has taken the side of Exelon over Barnegat Bay,” Tittel said in a statement. “This permit will mean more superheated water going into the Bay longer, not only killing fish, but undermining the health of the Bay. As long as we have this super heated water going into the Bay it will never be adequately protected and the governor’s ten point plan will never work.”

To view a copy of the final permit renewal and the DEP’s Response to Comments document, visit: http://observer-media.go-vip.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2011/12/oystercreekfinalpermit1.pdf

To view Governor Christie’s comprehensive 10-point Barnegat Bay Restoration Plan, visit:  http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/

  Oyster Creek plant discharge permit renewed