• Hearing sought on ex-nuclear plant's fuel storage plans

    By: WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press

    LACEY, N.J. (AP) - Two community groups and the New Jersey town that hosts a shuttered nuclear power plant want a public hearing on a company's plans to handle and store spent radioactive fuel there.

    Lacey Township, home to the former Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a hearing on plans by Florida-based Holtec International to speed up the decommissioning of the plant. It has told the NRC it can transfer fuel from cooling pools to dry storage in two years instead of the five it usually takes.

    The town, a community group and an environmental organization all want details of that plan and its finances. The NRC said Friday it had received requests for a hearing from Lacey's government, a community group called Concerned Citizens of Lacey, and the New Jersey Sierra Club.

    They not only want to know more about the science behind Holtec's decommissioning plan, but are concerned there isn't enough money set aside to fully retire the plant and restore its grounds to usable conditions.

    "The township is keenly interested in the decommissioning process ... as it will continue to deal with the lasting effects of the plant and the spent fuel stored on site at Oyster Creek for years to come," a lawyer for the township wrote to the nuclear agency.

    All three entities are concerned there is less than $1 billion set aside for the cleanup and storage plan, which is estimated to cost at least $1.4 billion. And Lacey also raised concerns about the involvement of a subcontractor on the fuel storage work, which is partly owned by a Canadian firm, SNC-Lavalin, that's facing bribery and other charges regarding its interactions with officials in Libya.

    SNC-Lavalin issued a statement Friday noting that it has pleaded not guilty even as it cooperates with authorities regarding actions taken before a management change in 2012.

    "The actions of a few individuals have had a significant impact on the reputation of our company," it said. "The company has since put in place a robust infrastructure to ensure these actions are never repeated."

    Holtec did not respond to a request for comment.

    Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the NRC, said the agency is reviewing Holtec's plans to purchase the plant, decommission it on an expedited basis and maintain the spent nuclear fuel at the site "to ensure Holtec has the proper technical and financial qualifications to own the facility and perform the decommissioning work."

    Oyster Creek shut down in September after 49 years of operation. It is owned by Chicago-based Exelon Corp., which would transfer the plant's license to Holtec.


    Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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