The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station sits near the shore of New Jersey, in Lacey Township, a small town in Ocean County. The single boiling water reactor, commissioned in 1969, was the first large-scale commercial nuclear power plant in the United States. It has a capacity of 625 MW, producing over 5,000 GWh in 2007, about 9 percent of the state's energy.
The benefits of the plant are numerous. It reduces reliance on unstable oil sources, it provides clean energy, and it’s far cheaper than wind or solar, rivaling even fossil fuel generation in cost per kilowatt-hour. The plant also is a boon for the local economy, creating over 900 jobs and donating over $100,000 yearly to the charity United Way.
This spring the plant won a 20-year extension of its operating license. That's when the environmentalists reared their heads. A plethora of alarmist groups, including the New Jersey Environmental Federation, the New Jersey Sierra Club, the Public Interest Research Group, the Nuclear Information Resource Service and Grandmothers, Mothers and More for Energy Safety (GRAMMES) appealed the decision, taking it to the federal court system.
The coalition's attorney, Richard Webster, of the Eastern Environmental Law Center, claims that the suit is over lack of information about how the plant will continue to operate safely. This claim is flat-out false. The plant submitted a bit of light reading -- a 462-page licensing application and a 59-page environmental impact report. Both reports extensively detailed the safety precautions and environmental safeguards the plant would take.
The environmentalists' complaints center around two topics. The first is Barnegat Bay. The plant dumps controlled amounts of non-radioactive cooling water into the bay. The water has little if any impact, raising the temperature at most a couple degrees in a small localized region. Solar warming and currents can create similar heat pockets in ocean water without human intervention.
The second complaint concerns the 650 tons of radioactive waste that sits in a holding pond outside the plant. Again, while the lobbies are eager to alarm the public, this pond, carefully constructed with concrete, poses no threat to the populace. In the first place, this is low-grade radioactive waste, and secondly it has been carefully maintained. And it is important to remember that these are the same lobbies that blocked applications of new plants that could remove and reprocess this waste.
If the people want something to protest about, protest the Environmental Federation, the Sierra Club, and these alarmists. They are hurting the environment, their community, and our nation. Worst of all, by forcing power companies to lose productivity and spend funds on legal defense; they're raising the cost of power for New Jersey citizens. Let's hope this one sees its way swiftly through the Justice System and that people -- and our government representatives start standing up to this kind of behavior.