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Oyster Creek May Face Costly Upgrade [AUDIO]

Upgrades are required to the vents in nuclear reactors similar to those that failed in Japan after a post-Fukushima Examination conducted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Oyster Creek Sirens Tested Today

Hardened vents are being required at thirty-one reactor sites operating Mark I or II reactors, the same ones in the Fukushima Diachi plants. Including Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Lacey Township.

The hardened vents will be required to handle elevated pressure, temperature, and radiation levels in case of an emergency. The vents must be operable by plant personnel in a time of crisis.

While hardened vents will be a requirement, the results from the NRC’s examination falls short of requiring filtered vents. The commission is giving nuclear plant staff one year to produce technical evaluations to support rule-making on filtering.

NRC Spokesman Neil Sheehan says there are other options beyond filtration systems to curtail contamination, namely a “performance based approach.”

“Where these plant owners would use sprays inside the containment building, they could use flooding inside the containment building, and other approaches to help filter out these radioactive particles.”

The public’s input will be gathered in this time and Sheehan, who is the representative for Region 1, says he has heard a mixed review on what is the better solution. Noting many residents and public interest groups favor the filtration vents, while many in the industry prefer the performance based systems.

“At this point we’re not ruling out filtered vents but there will be some more comprehensive study done before the commission decides on a definitive path going forward.”

Sheehan says the NRC has found it would costs plants roughly $15 million to retrofit themselves with a filtration system.

A final rule regarding the filtered vents must be made by March 2017, something that becomes an issue for Oyster Creek which is set to close in 2019.

Sheehan says they don’t have the answer on how it will impact Oyster Creek just yet.

“Whether it turns out to be a non issue for Oyster Creek, it’s just too early to know at this point.”

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