Exelon Generation Company has filed a WARN notice with the state, saying 84 of its workers at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey Township will begin leaving the company effective June 22.
“They are not being laid off. They have elected to leave the company,” said spokeswoman Suzanne D’Ambrosio. She said their positions were eliminated and they chose not to take others within Exelon, some choosing to retire.
They will leave over the course of about seven months, she said, declining to say whether severance packages were offered.
About 400 workers will either stay on at the plant for the decommissioning or have taken other Exelon jobs, she said.
In February, the company announced the plant would close in October, more than a year ahead of schedule. Exelon said it was partly a financial decision, “as fuel and maintenance costs continue to rise amid historically low power prices.”
At the time, the company said every one of its 500 employees would be offered jobs in other parts of Exelon and some would stay on to safely and securely decommission the facility after it is shut down.
According to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, WARN notices offer protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs.
D’Ambrosio said Exelon did not have to notify the state through a WARN notice but elected to do so for transparency.
“We’ve always called for the plant’s closure, and we want to make sure the employees can find work at other facilities or take part in the plant’s decommissioning,” said New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel. “Oyster Creek has been a safety threat to Ocean County, polluting Barnegat Bay and killing thousands of fish over the years.”
Oyster Creek is the oldest nuclear plant in operation in the United States.
The company is required to close it by December 2019 as part of a 2010 agreement with the state. It was licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission through 2029.
Oyster Creek produces 636 net megawatts of electricity at full power, enough to supply 600,000 typical homes, the company said.
It will continue operating at full power for a time, D’Ambrosio said, and its decommissioning will be overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.