TRENTON -Established in late March to assess operations and emergency preparedness for New Jersey’s nuclear power plants following Japan’s nuclear tragedy, the state’s Nuclear Review Task Force has issued an interim report based upon early lessons learned from that ongoing nuclear emergency.
The Task Force, chaired by DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, offers initial observations and recommendations that warrant further consideration in dealing with issues that could affect the state’s nuclear generating facilities.
New Jersey has four nuclear reactors: Oyster Creek in Lacey Township; the Salem Units One and Two reactors in Lower Alloways Creek Township; and Hope Creek, also 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.
The Task Force examined emergency response protocols, technical reviews of plant operations, the chain of command and control at each of the state’s nuclear facilities, evacuation plans, and emergency communications to the public.
The interim report touches on numerous issues, including power supply at the state’s nuclear plants, spent fuel storage, emergency planning zones, communications, interaction between the state and federal government, and coordination between New Jersey and neighboring states regarding reactors located outside of our borders.
- Power Supply: Ask the NRC to evaluate interconnections of generators at all three nuclear plants on Artificial Island in Lower Alloways Creek; and work with Exelon and PSE&G to develop procedures to quickly move essential equipment to deal with potential emergencies.
- Spent Fuel Storage: Increase the number of emergency diesel pumps at nuclear plants to handle cooling for all damaged systems; add monitors to view the spent fuel pool level from multiple locations; create regional agreements between nuclear plant operators to provide access to redundant pumps and generators; press the NRC and federal Department of Energy to create a national depository for spent nuclear fuel.
- Emergency Planning Zone: Request NRC confirmation that there is no technical or scientific basis to expand the current 10-mile emergency planning zone.
- Communications: Ensure battery backup is installed in a timely manner for siren network surrounding Oyster Creek; seek alternative methods to increase the effectiveness of delivering emergency messages to the public; support federal initiatives for emergency preparedness drills that feature multiple natural disasters.
- General Recommendations: Coordinate with New York and Pennsylvania to plan emergency response exercises for those reactors that impact New Jersey; more clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the State and federal government in handling potential emergencies; implement needed information technology (IT) upgrades at the State’s emergency response headquarters.
“We confirmed that we already have excellent safety features at our nuclear power plants and a top notch emergency preparedness and response system in place in New Jersey, one that is continuously the focus of practice and improvement,” Martin said. “But we had an obligation to examine the science and facts of the tragedy in Japan to see if there were early lessons learned to help make our preparedness and response plan even better. We understand you can never be too prepared, never be too comfortable in thinking you have all of the answers.”
In addition to Martin, the Task Force includes 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://www.nj.gov/dep/docs/nrtf-report20110627.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.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!