Tag Archive: Oyster Creek

News Roundup & Open Thread for Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bad omen for former Port Authority Chair David Samson: United Airlines Chief Executive and two other senior officials have stepped down during a federal corruption investigation on whether the airline had improperly sought to influence senior officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Samson was granted “The chairman’s flight” to South Carolina where he has a home.

Federal government awards $256 million to PATH: to repair damage sustained by the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail system during Superstorm Sandy.

Feds drop study of cancer risks near nuclear sites including Oyster Creek, arguing they don’t haver the time or resources.

Christie is officially continuing his four-year, multi-million dollar battle for legal sports betting despite appellate court ruling. The state Legislature and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association filed similar motions.

Pinelands burning: Firefighters are battling a blaze that has burned through about 1,000 acres of the Pinelands.

Obama said about Christie: “And then there was the guy – these guys are running for office, they’re running for the presidency – who said a union deserves a punch in the face. Really? Tell me how you really feel.”

Thursday the NJ Economic Development Authority will consider a host of new tax breaks to corporations, including $253 million for a Camden venture. NJ Policy Perspective has detailed in the past that the subsidies the state has offered to companies to relocate in Camden are highly risky, “come at a tremendous taxpayer cost per job and mostly shifted existing jobs around the region, doing little to grow the broader economy.”

If Christie were mayor of New York City he says, “Stop-and-frisk would be back in about five minutes.” Guess what guv: “Stop and Frisk” searches remain legal in NYC, just under more appropriate regulations.

Finally Rep. Bill Pascrell says, he will vote for the agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

Mayor Steve Fulop indicated yesterday, he would oppose the nuclear deal with Iran reached by President Obama.

Mayor of Jersey City takes another step toward gubernatorial candidacy. He opens his new website Steve Fulop 2017.

Former Senator Joe Lieberman was in Teaneck yesterday to support Democrat Josh Gottheimer, who is considering a 2016 challenge to U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett.

Pot Smokers beware: NJ Appellate Court ruled that police may still search people without a warrant when they detect the smell of marijuana.

Add Bon Jovi to the list of artists scheduled to perform in China only to have their concerts canceled due to some sort of affiliation with the Dalai Lama.

Safety Problems Identified at Oyster Creek Nuke

The Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Lacey Township is the oldest operating plant in the United States and is scheduled to be shut down in 2019. Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission identified some serious safety hazards at the plant.

While the NRC findings (below the fold) try to assuage any worries, remember that every plant (with the possible exception of Chernobyl) that has experienced significant problems had previously been deemed “safe.”

Let’s hope that Congressman Tom MacArthur, in whose district this plant is, puts the NRC’s and the operator’s feet to the fire and works to ramp up independent safety evaluations and work toward a smooth shut-down and site remediation.

Avoiding the Next Exxon Giveaway

Even as Governor Christie’s Exxon giveaway is being scrutinized during a 60-day public comment period, there’s another potential taxpayer cleanup liability looming.

The Exxon sites are not alone, nor are they the most complex cleanup tasks facing New Jersey.

The Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Lacey Township is scheduled to close in 2019. It will leave behind the detritus of spent nuclear fuel, contaminated ground soil, and other residual chemical pollution that will plague the Ocean County town for years to come, even with the best-financed and well-executed planning.

Christie’s currently-proposed Exxon settlement for a small fraction of the cleanup costs makes sense when viewed through his lens of presidential ambition. Any amount of settlement money that goes to the general fund, no matter how small, helps Christie in his claim that he is balancing the budget. This is not his first one-shot gimmick that he will be using toward this end, and probably not the last. The real cost of the Exxon cleanup will come years after Christie is out of office and will be left to future taxpayers.

Senator Bob Smith

Senator Bob Smith of Central Jersey’s 17th Legislative District is not one to grab headlines like many of his colleagues. A smart, determined legislator, he is the chairman of the Energy & Environment Committee – a thankless job at a time when the all-powerful governor takes his marching orders from the Koch Brothers and not the people of New Jersey.

Despite the governor’s bungling of energy and environmental policy, there are important issues facing the state. As Senator Smith explains in this interview, in many areas progress will be stagnant until we have a new governor.

I met with Senator Smith earlier today at his Piscataway office. We spoke about many of the issues that the governor is ignoring, about lost opportunities in job creation under this governor’s energy policies, and the impact of President Obama’s recent anti-environmental move to allow drilling oil spillage in the Atlantic Ocean not far from our Jersey Shore.

We also talked about what the Senator learned on his recent trip to Israel and what he calls a “crisis for Ocean County” that Congressman Tom MacArthur has so far ignored.

The interview ends with comments on a controversial bill that he is sponsoring to put firearms in the hands of ten-year-olds and his take on the 2017 governor’s race.

All of New Jersey’s Nuclear Reactors are Deemed Unsafe – by the Man Who Regulated Them

If you read this blog, or newspapers, or magazines, you are fed a panoply of interesting and current topics. Things come and go. Yet, many of these things fester in the background, out of sight from even the most avid news reader.

Today, you’re reading about the problems at Rutgers, even though similar problems are pervasive across many educational institutions. The reason Rutgers is in the news is that videos were released. Several months ago, you read about Hurricane Sandy. Yet, that one widespread incident is only part of a festering story about global climate change.

There’s another big story festering, but it didn’t make the headlines today. Instead, it was relegated to page 16 of today’s New York Times. It’s the story about the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who said that every one of this nation’s 104 nuclear reactors is inherently unsafe, including the four in the Garden State – one in Ocean County and three in Salem County.

If you live in Edison or Cape May or the Philly suburbs, you’re probably thinking, “Why worry? Those nukes are in pretty remote areas.” But keep in mind that when the Fukushima disaster happened, the same Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommended a 50 mile evacuation zone. (Shown below the fold are the recommended evacuation areas for New Jersey’s nukes.) If you live in Newark, you’re within the recommended evacuation zone of a disaster at the Indian Point reactor on the Hudson River.

The Oyster Creek reactor in Lacey Township is of the same design as Fukushima and is the oldest operating reactor in the U.S. The owners have said they will close it down in 2019, but there’s no guarantee that they will keep their promise, and no guarantee that they’ll remediate the site if they do.

Despite the promises of that great nuclear scientist, Walt Disney, nuclear power has never been the cheap, reliable source of energy that was promised. Those 104 power plants represent a foul legacy that our descendants will have to clean up for generations to come. But we need to start now.  Germany has taken the lead in steps to abandon dirty nuclear power in 11 years. We need to do the same. Before one of our unsafe reactors dominates the front page of the New York Times and “Glowing” Blue Jersey.

New Jersey’s Ticking Time Bomb

Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that it is planning on performing a special inspection of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Lacey Township, an area that was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This plant is one of the oldest in the country and its design is essentially the same as the Fukushima reactors that resulted in a long-lasting calamity in Japan.

Oyster Creek is operated by a for-profit company, Exelon, and while the NRC imposes (hopefully) strict safety standards, the age of the plant indicates that maintenance and safety costs will be rising. The state has indicated that the plant will be decommissioned in 2019, but since the operating license is issued by the Federal government, there are some, including the Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel, who look at that date with some doubt.

According to the NRC, we may have dodged a Fukushima-type bullet during the hurricane:

“Because the reactor was out of service at the time of the storm for a previously scheduled refueling and maintenance outage, plant operators did not have to contend with the possibility of a reactor shutdown as Sandy passed through the area. There were no immediate safety concerns,” Region I Administrator Bill Dean said. “Nevertheless, there are certain observations involving procedures and on-site activities that surfaced during the event warranting a closer look. This Special Inspection will focus on those areas to gain a better understanding of how the intake water level information was monitored and communicated during the event.”

We may not be so lucky the next time a global-warming-strengthened storm hits the Jersey Shore. Exelon has refused to build cooling towers for the plant, and according to Jeff Tittel, “Without cooling towers, the plants depend on continuous withdrawals from waterways to cool spent fuel, making the plant more vulnerable during power outages and to disruption of their water intake systems.”

While Exelon is not required to announce its decommissioning and environmental cleanup plan until two years before closure, it’s time to start working to get this ticking time bomb shut down safely. The Governor should form an advisory council now, consisting of area residents, environmentalists, and decontamination experts as well as energy experts to develop a plan and apply pressure to the NRC to ensure a safe and quick decommissioning of the plant and to boost clean energy alternatives.

Alert Issued at Oyster Creek Nuke

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a flood-related alert for the Oyster Creek Plant in Lacey Township. From their press release:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is continuing to monitor impacts from Hurricane Sandy on nuclear power plants in the Northeastern United States, including an Alert declared at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey. The plant, currently in a regularly scheduled outage, declared the Alert at approximately 8:45 p.m. EDT due to water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant’s water intake structure.

An Alert is the second lowest of four NRC action levels. The Alert was preceded by an Unusual Event, declared at approximately 7 p.m. EDT when the water level first reached a minimum high water level criteria. Water level is rising in the intake structure due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction and storm surge. It is anticipated water levels will begin to abate within the next several hours.

Chutzpah Quote of the Day

As reported by Tom Johnson of NJ Spotlight, Hal Bozarth, executive director of the Chemical Council of New Jersey and an opponent of offshore wind development recently said,

“Without big federal subsidies, you cannot make wind power affordable.”

That’s a lot of chutzpah from someone whose industry receives big federal subsidies.

His statement was in response to NRG Energy’s withdrawal from the offshore wind business in New Jersey. NRG’s rationale was the uncertain regulatory climate and the lack of subsidies for offshore wind developers.

How hypocritical that Bozarth is opposed to subsidies for this clean technology. After all, the oil and gas industries, on which Bozarth’s members depend, have received government subsidies for decades. And the taxpayer has been repeatedly called upon to spend billions to clean up oil, gas, and chemical spills and to pay for health care due to chemical pollution of the atmosphere.