The development of an Oyster Creek Safety Advisory Panel is in the works after Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin signed an administrative order to create the committee.
The purpose of the panel is to enhance oversight of the safe operation of the nuclear power plant leading up to its closure in 2019.
"The closure of Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station is a key component of Gov. Christie's plan to restore and protect the ecologically stressed Barnegat Bay," Martin said. "The panel's mission is to augment what we expect will be a thoroughly professional job by Exelon Corp., under the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission's oversight, as they continue to operate and then close the Oyster Creek reactor, and to ensure that the process is as open and transparent as possible."
The panel plans to keep the public in the know as it reviews the plant's operations and safety plans and monitors Exelon Corporation’s compliance with the administrative consent order.
The consent order was signed on Dec. 9, 2010, and is designed to ensure that the shutdown of Oyster Creek is executed safely. It includes an implementation schedule, progress report requirements and requirements for development of post-shutdown activities.
Among its duties, the panel will:
- Make recommendations to Oyster Creek and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for improvements or further evaluation.
- Conduct independent inspections of the facility as needed or participate in the NRC's inspections.
- Issue reports on findings.
- Seek public input and hold annual public meetings.
Martin will be serving on the panel along with Charles McKenna, director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and an independent expert in nuclear safety who has yet to be named, said Larry Hanja, spokesperson for the DEP. Nuclear engineers and experts from the DEP will also provide input and serve as staff on the panel.
The closing of Oyster Creek on Dec. 31, 2019, is a part of . His 10-point plan was signed into law on Jan. 5, 2011.
Oyster Creek is the oldest operating nuclear plant in the country. It has the capacity to supply electricity to 600,000 homes and brings in $96 million to the state’s economy through plant workers payrolls.