The Hope Creek nuclear reactor won a 20-year license renewal good through April 11, 2046.
In addition, on June 30, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted 20-year license extensions to the Salem 1 and 2 reactors which are nearby Hope Creek at the Artificial Island generating complex in Lower Alloways Creek Township. PSEG Nuclear operates the plants. Salem 1 and 2 now have licenses through 2036 and 2040, respectively.
“The license renewal of Hope Creek, as well as Salem last month, ensures clean nuclear energy is available for New Jersey and the region for years to come,” said Tom Joyce, president and chief nuclear officer of PSEG Nuclear.
Hope Creek is the 71st of the nation’s 104 nuclear power plants to receive a 20-year license extension. Nuclear plants originally get 40-year operating licenses with the ability to seek an extension if the plants’ operators meet NRC requirements.
So far, the NRC has not yet denied any application for an operating license extension.
The Hope Creek extension marks the end of a long process that began in August 2009 when PSEG Nuclear filed a 4,000-plus page application with the NRC requesting the license renewals for all three of its reactors.
After an extensive review by NRC staff, the applications faced a final look from the independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards.
The panel recommended all three plants gain license extensions.
Even though the Salem and Hope Creek applications came in on the same day, the Hope Creek review took more time due to questions raised by the ACRS.
One of the key elements reviewed is how the utility will deal with the reactors as they age. The granting of the license extensions come with conditions from the NRC.
Salem and Hope Creek are subject to an ongoing, rigorous program of oversight and inspection by the NRC, led by four full-time inspectors onsite, as well as supplemental inspectors from the NRC regional headquarters.
The plants also have their own extensive programs in preventive and corrective maintenance, equipment testing and monitoring and equipment replacement.
Over the past five years, PSEG Nuclear invested more than $231 million in equipment upgrades and enhancements to ensure the continued safe operation of Hope Creek, according to the utility.
In addition to license renewal, PSEG Nuclear continues to explore the possibility of building an additional nuclear plant at the Island.
In May 2010, the company filed an application for an Early Site Permit. Though not a commitment to build, the ESP would recognize the proposed location to be suitable from a safety, environmental and emergency planning standpoint.
An NRC decision on the Early Site Permit not expected until late 2013.
The three reactors have had a major economic impact on Salem County.
PSEG Nuclear is the county’s largest employer with 1,500 workers. The license extensions will guarantee the utility’s continued presence in Salem County.