Oyster Creek Opponents Voice Concerns at Public Forum
Opponents of the nation’s oldest operating nuclear power plant were able to vocalize their concerns and get a load off their chest. However, other than having officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission present as their sounding board in Toms River Wednesday night, little else was accomplished.
According to NRC Spokeswoman Diane Screnci says the purpose of the public forum was to allow the public to ask questions and to have their concerns heard. In her opinion, the NRC did a nice job of answering the public’s questions and allowing people the opportunity to address the NRC. However, Screnci says it was not a meeting where they are gathering formal comment as part of a process.
Unload they did! Individuals from various groups took to the podium at the Toms River Holiday Inn to voice their concerns and pent up frustrations about what they believe are glaring public safety issues, not only to humans but to the delicate ecosystem of the Barnegat Bay watershed.
Paula Gotsch of Grand Mothers, Mothers and More for Energy Safety told the NRC panel that she hopes no one else will try to tell them they shouldn’t worry about radiation from the aging Ocean County-based nuclear power plant, that we get more from radon. She says they’re talking about ingested radiation and its affects on children over time. Gotsch sited a cancer study and the impact of the Chernobyl disaster.
Jeff Brown, also of GRAMMIES, says in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster there were lessons learned to better protect spent radioactive fuel rods. He’s calling for thinning out the overcrowded fuel rod pool and placing the rods in hardened onsite storage. He says “they do this in Germany. We think they should do this in Lacey Township.”
Peg Sturmfels of the New Jersey Environmental Federatoin read excerpts of public NRC documents siting years of concerns about a fire suppression system that was deemed insufficient at most nuclear power plants and led a requirement by the NRC that all nuclear power plants comply with providing the apparatus. She says years later, these power plants were allowed to forgo installing the barriers altogether. Tauro says “I don’t understand why these exemptions are given. Why this urgency that we now are all supposed to be feeling after Fukushima is not reflected in the work that’s being done at the NRC.”
There was a glimmer of hope, when one of the NRC panelist reached out to the opponents saying that they all need to work together.
Wednesday’s forum was held following public outcry that Oyster Creek Opponents weren’t given a chance to make general comments during an open house hosted in Manahawkin by the NRC in March. New Jersey U.S. Senators Frank Launtenberg and Robert Menendez as well as Congressman Chris Smith demanded that a forum be held to give the public a chance to voice their concerns.