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N.J. SIERRA CLUB NEWS:PSEG Gets Okay to Build New Nuclear Plant in South Jersey

press release

PSEG Nuclear LLC has received a permit for a new nuclear reactor at their site on Artificial Island in Salem County. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board reviewed their application and issues them an Early Site Permit. This permit gives PSEG a 20-year window to pursue a construction and operating license for a 750 megawatts nuclear plant.


“We believe this project is the wrong project, in the wrong place; it’s dangerous and it’s expensive. This proposed plant would actually undermine New Jersey’s ability to promote renewable energy. The Delaware Bayshore has seen not only the biggest impact from sea level rise and climate change, but flooding as well. To put a nuclear power plant on a filled part of the River is a disaster waiting to happen, especially since this is one of the most densely populated areas of the state. The flooding from Hurricane Sandy caused damage at the other nuclear power plants in this area and there is potential for that to happen here as well,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The NRC stands for ‘No Regulatory Commission’ since they’re just a rubberstamp for the industry they’re supposed to regulate. We need another nuclear plant like we need another Hurricane Sandy. One would be a disaster while the other would be a tragedy.”


Storm and storm surges are becoming worse and more frequent because of climate change. The Delaware Bayshore is already seeing the impacts of climate change with the erosion of coastal wetlands and areas flooding during normal high tides. The Delaware Bayshore is eroding by 11 feet a year, which is almost 4 times faster than it was ten years ago. The Bay itself has risen a foot in the last century, with most of it happening in the last 20 years. It is projected to rise by another foot and half, which is a conservative estimate, by 2050. This is an area where climate change impacts will continue to get worse.


“This project is a terrible waste both financially and having to deal with nuclear waste. There’s three other power plants here and adding a fourth would make it the only place in the country with that many, making it vulnerable to accident or terrorist threats. We also still don’t have a solution to deal with all the nuclear waste. We’re turning Artificial Island into the largest nuclear waste depository in the country already without this addition. If this goes forward, where else can we put this dangerous waste? We are concerned that another storm like Hurricane Sandy or any other accident, what is going to happen to all of this radioactive waste?” said Jeff Tittel. “There will also be significant environmental impacts and pollution from fill, dredging, and destroying of at least 350 acres of wetlands. This will increase water pollution and make flooding ad storm surges worse.”  


This is a very vulnerable area. This project will fill in 108 acres of wetlands, a loss of 40 acres of ponds, and 9,585 feet of creek channel. We believe they need to look at the secondary and cumulative impacts of filling in wetlands, ponds and tidal pools with this project. Wetlands are important to purify our water, protect us from flooding, and provide biodiversity. Damaging or destroying wetlands is irreversible and will damage this sensitive environmental area.


“This could never be built without massive public subsidies. This nuclear power plant would cost at least $10 billion, possibly $15 billion. For that amount of money we could actually produce five times more solar and put solar panels on every roof in South Jersey or create 3500 megawatts of offshore wind, which would also create thousands of jobs. These plants are very expensive to operate because of having to buy expensive fuel as well as having armed guards. Operation and maintenance for a nuclear plant is 10X more for than a conventional power plant and 50X more than solar and wind,” said Jeff Tittel. “This is the most expensive way in the world to boil water.”


Building a facility of this type in an area that is subject to increasing sea level rise and storm surges is not only bad for the environment, but dangerous. Heavy River flooding along with a storm surge could cause a catastrophic event.  We need to look at the overall environmental impacts from dredging, especially to water quality from filling in wetlands and coastal resources or building new piers. This will create impacts to aquatic life and fisheries.


“We don’t need another nuclear reactor because we don’t need this energy. The state is subsidizing gas plants all over, including possible a repowering of BL England. This reactor is unnecessary and unneeded. It also present serious safety issues with potentials for flooding and contamination. It’s the wrong plant in the wrong site. These plants are not cost-effective, especially compared to natural gas. We also need to consider how much more cost-effective renewable energy is. We could be investing in solar and wind power instead. For $10 billion you could build about 3500 megawatts of offshore wind or for five percent of that cost, you could build a natural gas plant,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This nuclear plant is not cost-effective and will hurt the ratepayers of New Jersey. Nuclear power is the failed technology of the past and we need to move forward to a renewable energy future. We are going to fight this permit: better active today than radioactive tomorrow.”