Hope Creek Station

Hope Creek Generating Station in Lower Alloways Creek is one of the four nuclear-powered electrical stations in New Jersey. In January of 2005, the state ranked 10th out of the 31 states with nuclear capacity for the total generated megawatts. In 2003, over half of the state’s electricity was nuclear generated.

Public Service Enterprise Group, or PSEG Nuclear, LLC, owns and operates Hope Creek, which uses the “Mark I” containment style of the Fukushima I nuclear plant. PSEG proposed the plant in the early 70s, and though it was intended originally to be a two-unit station, it was scaled down to one due to a sluggish economy and construction difficulties. Hope Creek began operations in 1986.

The plant’s single nuclear reactor, a boiling water design engineered by Bechtel Corporation, has a 1,059-megawatt capacity. This design is second only to the pressurized water reactor as the most common in the country. The nuclear core boils water to produce steam for driving the generating turbines.  With a pressurized water reactor, the coolant fluid never boils. Pressurized water boiling can result in serious failure, such as the Three Island meltdown in 1979. The psi in a pressurized reactor is maintained at a very high 2,300 psi  to prevent boiling. In a boiling reactor, the coolant pressure is kept around 1,000 psi, allowing it to boil in the core around 285 degrees Celsius.

Hope Creek received a 40-year operating license, which is standard, from the nuclear regulatory commission when it came online. The license will expire in 2026, but PSEG will surely reapply for a 20-year extension. Extensions have become common, as reactors built in the 1960s have largely expired and this extension of 20 years almost always is granted.

PSEG was originally named Public Service Corporation of New Jersey, and it is both the oldest and the biggest publicly owned New Jersey utility. PSEG’s headquarters are in Newark. PSEG has 2.1 million electric customers and 1.7 million gas customers over 300 communities. The company serves 75% of New Jersey’s population. Exelon attempted to acquire PSEG in 2005, and while federal governmental agencies approved the merger, gaining approval from state regulatory agencies was impossible.

Hope Creek Generating Station was likely among the thousands of power plants, worksites, mills, and factories that used asbestos for to its strength for withstanding electricity. Though it protected people through its insulating properties in the short term, it left many workers with severe illnesses.