I attended tonight’s public NRC meeting on the expected PSEG site application for a 4th nuclear reactor at Salem County. If you think statewide you might call it a “5th reactor” but this one would be close to Salems 1 and 2 and Hope Creek on Artificial Island. The NRC has been told that PSEG will put in a site approval request before the end of the month.
The highlights in my opinion:
Approval of a site would not mean construction of an actual nuclear reactor is approved. That is a second process. The site approval process will consider cumulative impacts of having four reactors (such as the effect of the warm plume on the river.) The NRC will not consider the operating record of the existing reactors in approving another one. Site approval may take up to two years.
Local politicians of both parties support a new nuclear reactor. This is the jobs issue and also PSEG’s long presence here. Reactor employees and various Chambers of Commerce also support it. Environmental groups (Sierra Club, Unplug Salem, New Jersey Environmental Federation, …) are opposed. None of this is at all surprising. Businesses and politicians think PSEG is a model employer and “good citizen.” Environmental groups think it lies and uses lawyers to evade responsibilities.
One fisherman gave the staggering numbers of fishes killed and suggested PSEG build cooling towers for the two older reactors if they have so much money before trying for another reactor.
Although willing to step up and say PSEG will address traffic concerns, the representative of PSEG was completely unwilling to make any comment on the potential cost. They do not, by the way, have to specify a reactor design at this stage.
A longtime Salem County resident reminded everyone that the original promises were cheap — almost free — electricity, only 25 years of operation, and no onsite storage of nuclear waste. None of those promises came true.
In response to a question, the NRC resident inspector said that the 2006 New York Times article on the poor safety record of PSEG at the nuclear plants was “not inaccurate.” He felt they have been improving in recent years. Of course, if the NRC believed the reactors were unsafe they would shut them down, but I don’t think the inspector was fully satisfied. (I think they said 2006, there was also a similar 2004 article.)
There’s a large police presence at these meetings. Guys, it’s not the sixties or seventies anymore. The whole thing was very organized and respectful on all sides. I was slightly late so I missed the beginning. I saw Steve Sweeney afterwards so I reckon he spoke before I got there.