TRENTON–New Jersey’s nuclear power plants are operating safely and have effective response plans in place to deal with potential emergency situations, according to the final report of the Governor’s Nuclear Review Task Force, which examined lessons learned from the nuclear emergency that occurred in Japan last year in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami.
“Based on information provided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and licensed operators of New Jersey’s nuclear plants, Task Force members have a high level of confidence that New Jersey’s nuclear power plants are operating safely and have effective action plans to address the lessons learned from the Fukushima incident,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, who chairs the Task Force.
Based on information from the NRC and nuclear plant licensees, the Task Force also re-confirmed there are adequate safety features at our nuclear power plants and a reliable emergency preparedness and response system in place in New Jersey, one that is continuously the focus of practice and improvement.
The report, released today, says the Task Force agrees with and fully supports actions taken to date by the federal NRC in response to the Japan tragedy, and that New Jersey will continue to work closely with the NRC and other federal agencies, as appropriate, to ensure that lessons learned serve to fully strengthen the state’s emergency planning and response organizations.
The state also will continue to monitor reports from the NRC on the Japan situation, said Martin.
The state’s Nuclear Review Task Force was formed in late March, 2011 by the Christie Administration to assess operations and emergency preparedness for New Jersey’s nuclear power plants following Japan’s nuclear emergency. In addition to Commissioner Martin, the Task Force included 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.
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 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.
Final recommendations include:
- Power Supply: Ask the NRC to enhance safety at all New Jersey nuclear plants by working with the Exelon Corp. and PSEG, owners of New Jersey’s nuclear plants, 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.
- 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 nuclear reactors in those states 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.
To view the Task Force’s final report, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/docs/nrtf-report20120131.pdf
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