The environmental groups opposed to the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Ocean County’s Lacey Township are pleased the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is planning to further investigate the facilities reactor after they sent in thousands of petition signatures. Calling it a landmark victory, Paul Gunter with the group Beyond Nuclear explains, they first approached the NRC with their recommendations a month after the Japan nuclear disaster last year. At that time, they turned down their request. They’ve since jumped on board to look further into the General Electric Mark 1 reactor, it’s venting capabilities and the need for additional backup.

It’s been almost ten months since the earthquake and tsunami caused major damage to a Japanese nuclear power plant. A safety panel with the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been reviewing plants all across the country ever since the incident and they plan to continue to make sure everything is 100 percent at all times.

Gunter says “if there was to be a similar incident at Oyster Creek like the one in Japan, we would have huge problems on our hands. Close to 30 miles would be uninhabitable due to radiation. There’s really no time to waste.”

About 8,000 petition signatures have come to the NRC office. They include pleas from environmental groups to review whether approvals by the federal agency for venting systems should be revoked. Members of Beyond Nuclear, New Jersey Environmental Federation and Grandmothers, Mothers, and More for Energy Safety all support the review.

The Oyster Creek Plant will close in 2019, almost ten years earlier than scheduled because cooling tower construction at the site would be too expensive for plant owner Exelon.

The NRC tells us they plan to do the inspections this year.