The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed Oyster Creek’s operating licence for an additional 20 years. The 650MWe BWR in Ocean County, New Jersey is the longest operating commercial nuclear reactor in the USA.

Oyster Creek’s new operating licence will expire on 9 April 2029, 60 years after its first one was issued. The plant is operated by AmerGen Energy Company an Exelon subsidiary.

In a statement on 8 April, the NRC director of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, Eric Leeds, described the task as: “the most extensive licence renewal review to date.”

An independent body of nuclear safety experts, the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS), carried out extensive safety and environmental reviews. The application was also the subject of an adjudicatory hearing by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB).

Opponents to the life extension claimed that due to corrosion the containment would not be able to contain radioactive water in the event of a core accident.

Of the 104 operating reactors in the USA, so far 52 reactors have had their operating licences renewed by the NRC. The US nuclear regulator is also reviewing 13 other applications.

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