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Groups call for Oyster Creek reactor to be "autopsied" after closure

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2015 identified the need to "harvest" components for examination from closed reactors. Since then, nothing has happened. At a meeting tonight (April 10)in New Jersey, Beyond Nuclear will be asking the NRC why not. And with the country's oldest nuclear reactor -- New Jersey's Oyster Creek -- due to close permanently this October, Beyond Nuclear and its allies will be insisting that such examinations be put into play, rather than bury the evidence. Such autopsies would inform regulators of the potential hazards of continued operation at the country's remaining nuclear reactors, already showing serious signs of dangerous degradation impacting health and safety. 

Here are the opening paragraphs of our press release (read the full release here.)

TAKOMA PARK, MD --The Oyster Creek nuclear power station in Lacey Township, New Jersey should undergo an “autopsy” after it closes permanently in October 2018 and begins the decommissioning process, say three groups that closely watchdog the country’s oldest nuclear power plant.

Beyond Nuclear, based in Takoma Park, MD, New Jersey Clean Water Action and GRAMMES, a New Jersey nuclear watchdog group, are calling upon the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to oversee a strategic harvesting of aged reactor materials from safety-related components and structures to be used as samples for laboratory analyses or an “autopsy.”

Oyster Creek is presently the nation’s oldest operating power reactor and the world’s first Fukushima-style nuclear reactor, a GE Mark I boiling water design. In Japan, that design saw reactor safety systems and structures fail to prevent three reactor meltdowns nor contain massive releases of radioactivity following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The groups are asking the NRC, and Chicago-based Exelon Generation which owns Oyster Creek, to harvest a variety of material samples during decommissioning, including irradiated steel and concrete from safety structures and components from the 47-year old reactor for the scientific analysis of residual safety margins.

The groups say that an Oyster Creek autopsy can provide valuable information on safety margins and potential hazards for the 21 similarly designed and aging GE Mark I reactor units still operating in the country.

Read the full press release.