Exelon says it will have to close its Oyster Creek plant if it has to build cooling towers as proposed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

The Oyster Creek plant currently discharges water heated during electricity generation into a canal that is connected to Barnegat Bay. The DEP is proposing a closed-cycle cooling system consisting of cooling towers be built as a condition for renewal of the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit the nuclear plant needs to operate.

DEP says cooling towers are the ‘best available technology’ and would result in a much healthier Bay. The new system would significantly reduce the amount of water the plant needs to draw from the canal, thereby reducing impacts to aquatic life. It would also reduce the temperature of water discharged into the canal.

In a 7 January statement senior vice president, Exelon Generation Joe Dominguez said:

“On several occasions, the NJ DEP considered and rejected this kind of closed cycle cooling at Oyster Creek plant, reasoning, among other things, that cooling towers are not cost effective at Oyster Creek. Indeed, Exelon will have no alternative but to close Oyster Creek if it is ultimately required to construct cooling towers.

“This draft permit is only one step in the permitting process. We are confident that science and common sense will prevail and that the final permit issued by DEP will not require the installation of cooling towers. Exelon will continue to provide data to the DEP and is committed to working with all stakeholders to find solutions that make sense for the many issues that confront the Bay.”

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