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NJ Nuclear Plant Taken Offline For Maintenance Work

(Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

(Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

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LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — The nation’s oldest operating nuclear plant has been taken offline temporarily so crews can complete some maintenance work.

The Oyster Creek plant in Lacey Township was shut down at 3:37 a.m. Saturday so crews could look into and make repairs to a system that controls its turbine valves. The work cannot be performed while the plant is generating electricity.

Plant officials say staffers will perform additional unspecified maintenance work during the outage to keep the unit operating “reliably and efficiently.” But it’s not clear how long the work will take to complete or when the reactor will be restarted.

Oyster Creek is located about 60 miles east of Philadelphia. It generates enough electricity to power 600,000 homes, or roughly all the homes in Monmouth and Ocean counties combined.

The plant went online Dec. 1, 1969, the same day as the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station near Oswego, N.Y. But Oyster Creek’s original license was granted first, making it the oldest of the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear reactors that are still operating.

Oyster Creek is due to shut down by the end of 2019 instead of 2029 as called for in its current license.

The plant agreed to the early shutdown in return for not being required to build costly cooling towers that would minimize the impact on fish and other marine life in the creek.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)