June 29, 2011
This July 12, 1972 file picture shows the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey Township, N.J. This boiling water reactor began running in 1969 and ranks as the country's oldest operating commercial nuclear power plant. Its license was extended in 2009 until 2029, though utility officials announced in December 2010 that they'll shut the reactor 10 years earlier, rather than build state-ordered cooling towers.
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When commercial nuclear power was getting its start in the 1960s and 1970s, industry and regulators stated unequivocally that reactors were designed only to operate for 40 years. Now they tell another story — insisting that the units were built with no inherent life span, and can run for up to a century, an Associated Press investigation shows.
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