Wilmington-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has been awarded a decommissioning contract for work at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey.
The contract was awarded by Comprehensive Decommissioning International LLC for decommissioning work on a boiling water reactor at the New Jersey plant, shut down in September, according to a news release. The terms of the contract were not disclosed.
GE Hitachi will work to dismantle, segment and pack reactor components and the reactor pressure vessel.
Project planning is currently underway and site operations are slated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2019, Jon Allen, spokesman for GE Hitachi, said in an email Wednesday.
"Our decommissioning business unit is based in our Wilmington headquarters. Additional staff will be hired to support the project at our headquarters and at the plant site," Allen said.
The hiring figures were not disclosed.
GE Hitachi, a joint venture between General Electric and Hitachi, is a provider of advanced nuclear technology and services.
The company has been “decommissioning nuclear reactor internals in operating plants since the mid-1990s,” Allen said.
"We developed a business unit to utilize this know-how for decommissioning reactor internals and reactor pressure vessels," he added.
GE Hitachi currently has one other active decommissioning contract.
The company announced in January the completion of decommissioning activities of a boiling water reactor unit at Oskarshamn Nuclear Power Plant (OKG) in Sweden. GE Hitachi completed segmentation of reactor internals at the Swedish plant’s Unit 2 and is currently conducting work on Unit 1.
The contract for boiling water reactor OKG Units 1 and 2 was announced in early 2017
"GE Hitachi is actively seeking nuclear decommissioning projects globally as part of our portfolio that supports the entire life cycle of nuclear operation, from plant design and construction, to operations and fuel support, to decommissioning and dismantlement activities," Allen said.
At Oyster Creek, “all handling and segmentation will be carried out underwater and will be accomplished using the Primary Segmentation System that was designed in conjunction with REI Nuclear,” stated the release.
The Primary Segmentation System
utilizes a rotating table and “dynamic towers” to cut reactor internal components underwater, Allen said. The work performed underwater protects workers from radiation exposure, he said.
“Carbide-tipped blades cut reactor components weighing up to 150,000 pounds. Components can be rotated 360 degrees on the table, while blades are deployed in different cutting positions from either a vertical tower or horizontal crossbeam to facilitate efficient packaging within a disposal container,” Allen said.
Once internal components are segmented, the system is then utilized to segment the reactor vessel in a dry state, he added.
The system’s design originated with REI Nuclear, but has been modified in conjunction with GE Hitachi "based on lessons learned from project deployments including the OKG project in Sweden," Allen said.
In December, GE Hitachi completed the acquisition of REI Nuclear LLC, a South Carolina-based nuclear firm that specializes in decommissioning and dismantlement projects. The acquisition amount was not disclosed.
New Jersey-based Comprehensive Decommissioning International (CDI), a joint venture company of Holtec International and SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., was issued a decommissioning general contract to perform work at Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station.
“We are pleased to support CDI with a reactor segmentation solution that leverages our experience, expertise and focus on safety and efficiency,” Lance Hall, GE Hitachi executive vice president, said in the release.
Holtec recently acquired the Oyster Creek facility from Exelon Generation, following approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in June to transfer the plant's operating license to Holtec subsidiaries.
In other work with Holtec, GE Hitachi was awarded a contract in early 2018 to accelerate the commercialization of Holtec’s SMR-160.
According to the NRC, Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station began operating in 1969 and was permanently shut down Sept. 17.