For Immediate Release
Bill Wolfe (609) 397-4861; Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
Jersey Cooling Tower U-Turn Derails Nuke Pollution Control
Oyster Creek Reactor Can Keep Wreaking Havoc on Barnegat Bay Marine Life
TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie broke on his major environmental
campaign pledges last week by dropping a requirement that the 41-year
old Oyster Creek nuclear reactor install cooling towers to reduce
thermal pollution of Barnegat Bay. As a result, the plant will continue
to kill millions of fish, shellfish and marine life for the rest of the
decade, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
Last week, Gov. Christie announced an Administrative
Consent Order that absolved Oyster Creek of the requirement to install
cooling towers in return for a commitment to cease operating in 2019.
This action reversed a permit requirement imposed by the New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in January of this year.
It also broke a pledge candidate Christie made in his 2009 campaign to
win a key endorsement from the state's largest environmental
After years of strenuous and convoluted legal
efforts, on January 7, 2010, DEP announced a draft permit requiring
Oyster Creek to install cooling towers as "best available technology
(BAT) for minimizing adverse environmental impact" as required under the
Clean Water Act, based upon its "best professional judgment" following a
detailed cost-benefit analysis. Last week, Gov. Christie upended these
detailed technical findings with the stroke of a pen.
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Governor Christie did was the opposite of science-based
decision-making," stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe, a former
DEP analyst, noting that there were no new facts or study justifying
this abrupt about face on the highly technical BAT finding. "This
snatched a huge environmental defeat from the jaws of a monumental
victory with Oyster Creek getting an official seal of approval to
decimate Barnegat Bay's marine life for years to come."
effects of Christie's action will reverberate far beyond Oyster Creek as
the eight other reactors in New Jersey facing cooling tower pressures
along with more than a score of nuclear plants in New York. As one of
the oldest reactors in the country, pollution enforcement action was
furthest advanced against Oyster Creek than other plants. Christie's
action may signal that the entire campaign to curb the destructive
effects of heated reactor water is moribund. States like New Jersey had
been in the forefront as federal agencies have warred with each other
on this issue. This spring under a court ordered mandate, the U.s.
Environmental protection Agency is supposed to weigh in on the issue.
Creek is a zombie nuke, lumbering along for decades after its design
life, and presented the clearest case for cooling towers," Wolfe added,
expressing uncertainty whether proposed cooling tower requirements at
other reactors will also be jettisoned. "How New Jersey the cooling
tower permit condition for the Salem nuclear power plant will tell if
BAT policy is dead in the water, so to speak."
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Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.