N.J. task force issues interim report on state’s 4 nuclear power plants

A state task force formed in the aftermath of the Japanese nuclear disaster to review safety and other issues at New Jersey’s four nuclear power plants has issued an interim report that calls for, among other things:

* Pressing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to find a national storage site for spent fuel rods;

* Seeking NRC confirmation that New Jersey need not expand its 10-mile emergency evacuation planning zones;

* Increasing the number of emergency diesel pumps at nuclear plants to handle cooling for all damaged systems;

* And working with Exelon and PSE&G – the operators of the four nuclear power plants in New Jersey – to develop procedures to quickly move essential equipment to deal with potential emergencies.

The Christie administration created the task force in March in the wake of the damage sustained at the Fukushima Daiichi Japanese nuclear power plant following an earthquake and tsunami.

New Jersey has four nuclear reactors: Oyster Creek in Lacey Township; and the Salem Units One and Two reactors and Hope Creek, all in Lower Alloways Creek. The report stressed that nuclear reactors located in the state are designed to withstand severe events, including hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

While commending the task force for some of its findings, such as the need for better backup systems at the power plants, the N.J. Sierra Club criticized other conclusions, such as the decision not to seek an expanded evacuation zone.

“Trying to evacuate more than one million people on a summer weekend in Ocean County will take a lot more planning then current plans allow for,” Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said in reference to the Oyster Creek plant. “Even the Salem and Hope Creek plants should have an expanded evacuation zone given the potential areas of impacts, and there are three reactors on site.”

In addition, back when the task force was formed in March, the Sierra Club criticized its makeup for not including any members independent of the administration.

The task force is composed of Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, State Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Director Charles B. McKenna, and State Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon.

To view the task force’s interim report, visit: http://observer-media.go-vip.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2011/06/nrtf-report201106271.pdf

The task force anticipates issuing a final report in the fall. In the interim period, the utilities and the NRC are invited to respond to the report. N.J. task force issues interim report on state’s 4 nuclear power plants