TRENTON – The state Department of Environmental Protection announced the formation of a task force that will conduct an assessment of operations and emergency preparedness plans for the New Jersey’s four nuclear generating facilities. The review will determine whether any early lessons from the ongoing nuclear emergency in Japan could enhance New Jersey’s current nuclear response protocols.
Led by DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, the task force includes State Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Director Charles B. McKenna, State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, and State Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon.
The task force will begin their analysis of New Jersey’s nuclear facilities next week as they prepare to get a first-hand briefing on operations at each plant and to discuss current emergency response measures. The Exelon Corp. and PSEG, which own and operate the reactors, have pledged to participate in those reviews. Potential impacts from reactors in neighboring Pennsylvania and New York also will be examined.
A regularly scheduled nuclear emergency preparedness drill will be held in May at Salem Unit One. These drills are held quarterly, on a rotating basis at the state’s four nuclear reactors, and include State, federal, county and local representatives.
“We want to ensure all proper safety protocols and preventative measures are in place to protect the residents of New Jersey from ever having to experience a nuclear emergency,” said Gov. Chris Christie. “There may be lessons to be learned from what is happening in Japan that could make our preparedness even better and make the state’s residents more secure. We have an obligation to explore those facts and will make necessary adjustments to our safety plans as appropriate.”
The task force will explore emergency response protocols, technical reviews of plant operations, the chain of command and control at each nuclear facility, evacuation plans, and emergency communications to the public. A written report will be submitted to the governor once the review is completed.
“We already have an excellent response system in place, one that is continuously updated as we gather new science and facts,” said Martin.” We also have excellent cooperation from the owners of nuclear facilities in our State. But you can never be too prepared. If there are lessons for New Jersey from what is happening in Japan, we should draw from that information.”
New Jersey has four nuclear reactors: Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, Hope Creek in Lower Alloways Creek Township, and the Salem Units One and Two reactors, also in Lower Alloways Creek Township.
The NRC requires the state’s nuclear plants to meet federal specifications to withstand natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis.
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