A public meeting about shutting down the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station after almost 50 years of operation is scheduled for Tuesday evening in Lacey.

Spokesman Neil Sheehan of The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the operator, Excelon, has a detailed plan for decommissioning the Oyster Creek Plant.

"It is now about to enter a different phase of its life, where it is going to be in this decommissioning condition," he said. "It is very important for us to hear from the public."

The lengthly process after the Sept. 17 shut down includes cooling down the reactor and deactivating radioactive fuel rods at the site.

According to Sheehan, this deactivation should not pose any threat or danger to the public, now or in the future.

"What they will do, what will remain at the site, will be the spent fuel in the spent-fuel pool, which has significant protections for the public. It has about 40 feet of water, and any spent fuels is in metal racks at the bottom of that pool.

"Exelon has indicated to us that they would like to get all of the fuel out of the pool and into dry cast storage within about five and a half years. And then once that is moved, the risk of an accident will go down significantly once the plant ceases operations."

He says this long-term spent fuel storage will prevail until sometime in 2073, when the actual dismantling of the plant gets under way.

"That could change. They could always, at some future point, if they decide that they want to accelerate the dismantlement work, they would have that option."

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Lacey Township Community Hall in Forked River.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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