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Exelon Generation permanently shuts Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey

New Jersey — Exelon Generation permanently shut its single-unit 670-MW Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Forked River, New Jersey, at noon EDT (1600 GMT) Monday, the company said in a statement.

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The boiling water reactor had been the country's oldest operating nuclear power unit, having received its operating license in April 1969 and beginning commercial operation in December 1969.

Under an agreement with the state of New Jersey, Exelon agreed to permanently shut Oyster Creek by the end of 2019, in exchange for not being required to install expensive cooling towers at the plant to comply with state environmental regulations. The company announced earlier this year that it would shut the unit in September.

"Over the next few weeks, workers will remove the reactor's fuel supply and store it safely in the station's used fuel pool. After that, workers will begin prepping the station for dismantlement and long-term decommissioning," Exelon said in its statement.

"In July, Exelon Generation announced a conditional sale of Oyster Creek to Holtec International, a global leader in used nuclear fuel management technologies. The transaction is expected to close in 2019, pending license transfer approval from the NRC," Exelon said in its statement.

"Once the sale is completed, Holtec International will manage all site decommissioning and restoration activities with a goal of full decommissioning within eight years," it said.

"About 300 of Oyster Creek's employees will be staying at Oyster Creek for decommissioning with Exelon Generation and, ultimately, Holtec," Exelon said.

During its operational lifetime, Oyster Creek generated almost 200 million MWh of electricity and "offset more than 140 million metric tons of carbon, the equivalent of [emissions from] nearly 31 million cars," Exelon said. -- Steven Dolley,

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson,