How Can We Trust Holtec CEO with Oyster Creek Decommissioning?

How Can We Trust Holtec CEO with Oyster Creek Decommissioning?

Krishna P. Singh, CEO of Holtec International, is being called out for her comments on workers at their manufacturing plant in Camden. Singh commented on the employees’ alleged tardiness and drug-dependence, saying that the company had difficulty finding “quality work.” Holtec was granted $260 million in tax breaks by the Economic Development Authority under Governor Christie in 2014. The company plans to buy Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station and take over the site, including the decommissioning of the plant and other clean-up and restoration activities. If Holtec’s purchase is approved by the NRC, BPU and other agencies, the funds from the Nuclear Plant Closure Fund will be given to Holtec to manage for restoration of the site. This would also be Holtec’s first decommissioning.

“After trashing New Jersey’s workers, how does Holtec’s CEO plan to hire people to dismantle and decommission this dangerous nuclear power plant? This is a big job with serious safety issues and how do they plan to accomplish it five years if they can’t find ‘quality’ workers? We’re concerned about the company’s overall plan to close the plant and these comments make us even more concerned that the company will fall short. If he can’t trust the people here, how will the decommission get done? We need to be sure the plant is decommissioned safely and quickly, and Holtec isn’t proving to be up to that task,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “A company lead by a CEO who badmouths the people of New Jersey should not be receiving tax breaks from the state of New Jersey. The people of Camden are some of the hardest-working people if the state and Singh’s comments are the verbal equivalent of Christie Whitman’s frisking a man on camera**.”

Holtec is planning on filing to purchase Oyster Creek tomorrow. Their plan calls for a quicker cleanup which is something we have supported however bringing in 5 more LLC’s will undermine the transparency, and oversight of the facility. We are concerned that no one will be held liable if there is a problem. With 6 different companies involved, how is this going to work? How will we be able to make sure these companies are all doing their job?

“Holtec is bringing in too many owners in the purchase and oversight of the decommissioning.  These subsidiaries and contractors are third party and not a BPU-regulated entity. This means there won’t be as much transparency involved in the process. They won’t be able to be held accountable by the agency the way Exelon currently is. They may also take over the liability from Exelon,” said Tittel. “What’s even more alarming is that this is Holtec’s first decommission. If something happens with the clean-up or more contamination found, Exelon could be off the hook.”

In their decommission plan, 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. The public is concerned about Holtec’s plan to move still-hot nuclear waste out of water pools and into dry cask storage in half the usual time of about 5 years. They claim there casts are proprietary and have not disclosed detail about their design to the public. Until the rods are out of the spent-fuel pools and put into dry cask storage, the plant is extremely vulnerable. If there is a power outage, storm surge, or flood, the rods could melt down and create serious public health and environmental damage.

“Holtec says it will take 2.5 years to transfer the spent fuel in their dry cask storage which has never been done before. The company says their cask storage design is proprietary which is an excuse not to let the public know how they are going to do this. This raises even bigger concerns. We don’t know enough about Holtec’s new dry cask storage design and we should not be experimenting on the people of Ocean County. Holtec needs to prove to us that doing it in half the time will be safe,” said Tittel. “The sooner the plant can be dismantled and decommissioned with the fuel rods going to dry cask storage, the less vulnerable the plant will be during the next storm surge. But we need to do it right.”

Holtec has also proposed to build a nuclear repository in New Mexico. They have applied for a license to open an interim spent fuel-storage facility in New Mexico and will submit its official application for license for transfer to the NRC on Friday. The purchase predicted for 2019 needs to be approved by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and other agencies.

“This new development raises serious questions about giving such an important, and potentially dangerous plant, to Holtec. The company’s CEO has a dangerous attitude and beliefs about the people of New Jersey and we question their ability to dismantle the plant in a safe, timely manner. Before the BPU allows for the sale or the NRC approves the transfer, there are many serious questions that have to be answered. With Hotlec adding more third parties in the purchase and new technology that they will not disclose to the public brings concerns about accountability, transparency, and funding that need to be answered to make sure this is a good deal for the ratepayers, environment, and communities of New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Singh mocks employees by saying they don’t want to work while he’s gotten millions of taxpayer dollars in handouts from New Jersey.”

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