I wrote a letter to the author of a 16 February 2006 article from the Asbury Park Press titled “Closing Oyster Creek would be anything but simple.”
The article told its story mainly from the point of view of people that were fighting the license renewal process and talked about things like stopping the production of more used fuel and the complex and expensive procedure required to dismantle the plant.
In fairness the article did mention that the plant owner already has the cost of decommissioning in the bank, since putting away that money is part of the licensing requirement. Here is my full letter, which is probably a bit too long for publication in a traditional letter to the editor section.
Dear Mr. Clunn:
In your article titled “Decommissioning Oyster Creek would be anything but simple” you did not mention an important detail that will affect all residents of the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland electrical interconnection region. If the plant shuts down in 2009, the power that the plant now produces will have to be replaced by burning more oil or natural gas. There is little likelihood that any other kind of power production can be brought on line by that time.
In 2003, the last year that Energy Information Administration data is available (http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/at_a_glance/reactors/oyster_creek.html) the plant operated at a capacity factor of 98.9% and produced more than 5.2 million megawatt-hours of electricity.
Replacing that power would require about 24,000 barrels of oil every day, the equivalent amount of natural gas or some combination of the two. If fuel costs remain the same as they are today, that would cost ratepayers about $525 million each year in additional fuel surcharges. It is more likely that the increased demand for those limited fuels would drive the price even higher.
The additional air pollution from burning that additional fossil fuel would also be shared by all of the region’s customers. Oyster Creek produces zero SOX, NOX, CO2, mercury or fly ash. As air pollution flies, Oyster Creek is about 50 miles from my Annapolis home and has a beneficial effect on the entire Delaware and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.
The review process that the NRC uses is very detailed. If the plant operators are able to prove to the NRC that the plant has been well maintained and meets its safety criteria, the plant should be allowed to operate for at least an additional twenty years. Its benefits greatly exceed its costs.
Editor, Atomic Insights