MONSTER VICTORY? OR GOVERNMENT AS USUAL? NJDEP has issued a draft permit doing a good thing on a bad schedule. Barnegat Bay cannot wait SEVEN YEARS for Oyster Creek cooling towers. What is DEP thinking?
906-B Grand Central Avenue
Lavallette, NJ 08735
For Release: January 8, 2010
Contact: Willie deCamp 732-830-3600
In a potentially huge victory for Barnegat Bay and for Save Barnegat Bay, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Governor Corzine have issued a draft permit requiring the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to build cooling towers.
The plant’s present “once through” cooling system strains 2.8% of the volume of Barnegat Bay of life each and every day.
Because the fine print gives Oyster Creek more than seven years in which to build the cooling towers, Save Barnegat Bay believes that the permit is less than what DEP Commissioner Mark Mauriello and the Corzine administration have claimed it to be.
Save Barnegat Bay is optimistic, however, that after the public hearings and comment period through March 15th, the Christie administration will curtail Corzine’s and Mauriello’s unreasonable seven year schedule. The tallest building in the world, Burj Dubai, was recently built in five years.
“DEP’s has already delayed acting on Oyster Creek’s expired permit for twelve years,” said William deCamp Jr., Chairman of Save Barnegat Bay. “A delay of nineteen years amounts to government thumbing its nose at the people of New Jersey.”
“We are grateful to all who phoned their legislators, wrote letters, and traveled to Trenton,” said deCamp, “and we are especially grateful to Senator Bob Smith of Middlesex County for the holding a legislative hearing last December. That turned the tide.”
“This is potentially the biggest single victory for the Barnegat Bay environment in the last generation,” deCamp said. “The results may be dramatic and highly visible.”
During the comment period, Exelon, the owner of Oyster Creek, will likely argue that cooling towers would be prohibitive in cost and should therefore not be required. Environmentalists estimate the cost at no more that $300 million, which is easily within the reach of Exelon, one of the most profitable corporations in America, with an operating margin of 32%.
This potentially successful permit result was achieved through a major coalition of groups including Save Barnegat Bay, Environment New Jersey, GRAMMES, the American Littoral Society, the New Jersey Environmental Federation, the Sierra Club of Ocean County, Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch, the New Jersey Coast Anglers Association, and others.
The draft permit can be read in full at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/dwq/pdf/draft_permit100107.pdf. The seven year compliance schedule may be found on page 31. NJDEP’s press release did not allude to the compliance schedule. Either of these documents might have been written by Charles Dickens.
The enormously positive effect of this draft decision is that the Department of Environmental Protection now acknowledges that cooling towers are needed from an environmental point of view. Now it is down to the questions of timing and of economic feasibility.
The DEP will hold public hearings on Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Lacey Township Municipal Building, 818 West Lacey Road, Forked River; and on Wednesday, March 3, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the DEP Public Hearing Room, 401 East State Street, Trenton.
Written public comments can be made until March 15. Comments should be sent to Pilar Patterson, Chief of the Bureau of Surface Water Permitting, P.O. Box 029; Trenton, NJ 08625.
Those who care about Barnegat Bay may help by writing letters and by attending the hearings. Since the room in which NJDEP has scheduled the hearing in Lacey cannot come close to accommodating the number of people likely to attend, those interested should watch Save Barnegat Bay’s website for a changed location.
In your comments, in addition to offering your personal thoughts, three key points can be usefully emphasized: (1) The compliance schedule should total two years, not seven. (2) The damage being done by the present once-through cooling system is extreme. (3) The cost of the towers is not prohibitive.