Holtec International on Wednesday outlined a complex web of subsidiaries and joint ventures that would be involved in owning and decommissioning the Oyster Creek Generating Station in Lacey Township, if the company is allowed to buy the 50-year-old nuclear plant from Exelon Generation.

Representatives of the companies gave a presentation to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Maryland, describing how Holtec would use the almost $1 billion trust fund set aside from ratepayers for the decontamination and demolition of the property.

Holtec plans to use a new cask design for storing spent nuclear fuel, to move still-hot nuclear waste out of water pools and into dry casks in about half the usual time of five years, a representative told the NRC.

That announcement was met with some skepticism from the NRC’s John Lamb, who said he was unaware of any approved cask designs that would allow for such an accelerated schedule.

“Holtec has proprietary casks. We can put some of that detail in if we need to explain why we are confident we can do that,” said Holtec Decommissioning International Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Pam Cowan. “It’s proprietary.”

It also caused concern for some members of the public.

“What are the standards the NRC has to ensure adequate cooling?” asked Amanda Jo Green of the environmental group Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. “When I hear 2½ years, it sounds to me like we are in for a very dangerous situation.”

Doug Broaddus, of the NRC Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, said casks must be reviewed and approved.

Current owner Exelon Generation recently announced it has an agreement to sell the plant, which closes Sept. 17, to Camden-based Holtec.

Holtec would create a wholly owned subsidiary, called Oyster Creek Environmental Protection LLC, to own the property and control the trust fund.

Another wholly owned subsidiary, Holtec Decommissioning International, would hold the operating license to run the decommissioning, according to an outline Holtec presented at a meeting.

Members of the public expressed concern about the complexity of the companies involved, and who ultimately would be responsible should an accident occur or the money run out before the job is done.

“There is ongoing oversight of the facility by the NRC,” Broaddus said. “That will not change because of a change in ownership.”

The NRC will also oversee disbursements from the trust fund, he said.

“Funds will be spent for decommissioning activities, not for other purposes,” he said. “We do look at that closely.”

HDI would use Comprehensive Decommissioning International as a general contractor, said Cowan. CDI is a joint venture between Holtec International and Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, which has decommissioning experience.

Atkins, a wholly owned subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, would also be involved in the work. It has extensive decommissioning and nuclear cleanup experience, according to Holtec. So would Kentz Engineers & Constructors, another SNC-Lavalin subsidiary.

The 30-year-old Holtec makes storage casks for nuclear waste and has extensive experience in other aspects of the nuclear industry, but this would be its first venture into decommissioning, Cowan said.

“Holtec has been in the nuclear industry for decades. We are interested in integrating decommissioning into our business line,” she said.

In addition to manufacturing casks for dry storage, the company has extensive experience with spent fuel, she said, and has applied for a license to open an interim spent fuel-storage facility in New Mexico.

“It makes sense for us at this time to get involved in decommissioning,” Cowan said.

Holtec will submit its official application for license transfer to the NRC on Friday, representatives said.

Contact: 609-272-7219 mpost@pressofac.com Twitter @MichelleBPost Facebook.com/EnvironmentSouthJersey

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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