NJ’s Oyster Creek Deemed Disaster Ready

Monday, February 13, 2012 @ 07:02 PM gHale

In the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, New Jersey went into action and wanted to check its nuclear plants and it seems Oyster Creek Generating Station is operating safely and has effective response plans to deal with potential emergency situations.

“Based on information provided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) 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 New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, who chairs the Nuclear Review Task Force.

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The Task Force examined lessons learned from the nuclear emergency that occurred in Japan last year and found that New Jersey’s plants have adequate safety features and a reliable emergency preparedness and response system.

The state will continue to work closely with the NRC to ensure the lessons learned strengthen the nuclear plant’s emergency response, Martin said. Any upcoming reports from the NRC on the situation in Japan will also go under review.

“We said when the Task Force came out, we’re committed to continuing to ensure that Oyster Creek runs safely under all conditions and that we can safely shut the plant down if we need to,” spokesperson Suzanne D’Ambrosio said. “We follow the regulations to the letter. We’ll continue to operate the plant within the regulations that are put before us.”

The Task Force, established by Gov. Chris Christie in March, examined emergency response protocols, technical reviews of plant operations, the chain of command and control at each of the nuclear facilities, evacuation plans and emergency communications to the public. The report also covers issues including power supply, spent fuel storage, emergency planning zones, communications, interaction between the state and federal government and coordination between the state and neighboring states.

Final recommendations include:
• Power Supply: The NRC should enhance safety by working with the operators of New Jersey power plants by developing procedures to quickly move essential equipment when dealing 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 undergoes installation 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.

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