Siting Board Status

The Regional Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility Siting Act (Siting Act), N.J.S.A. 13:1E-177 et seq., in 1987, authorized the New Jersey Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility Siting Board to site and oversee the development, operation and closure of a disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) generated in New Jersey. As established in the Siting Act, the 11-member volunteer Board was responsible for developing a disposal plan, siting criteria and public information program, establishing a siting process, siting, and overseeing the construction, operation and closure of the LLRW disposal facility. The 13-member volunteer Advisory Committee, also established by the Act, was responsible for advising on disposal facility site designation and making recommendations for action on application for construction of the disposal facility. Both groups were composed of volunteers nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate, with the Siting Board also including representatives of the Commissioners of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and Health.

In June 1991, the Legislature and Governor amended the Siting Act giving the Board authority to assess and collect fees from the generators of LLRW in New Jersey for the cost of implementing the Siting Act, the Northeast Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Compact Act, N.J.S.A. 32:31-1 et seq., and the Federal Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act 42 U.S.C. 2021b et seq. Since that time, the Siting Board has received no funds from the State budget.

Between 1995 and 1998 the Siting Board implemented a voluntary approach to find a site in New Jersey. During this time, many individuals sought information to help them determine whether or not hosting the disposal facility might be a good idea for their municipality. In sixteen towns, the possibility gained enough interest to inspire attention in the local and regional press. In fourteen of those communities, local officials began to publicly explore whether or not they should volunteer to host the disposal facility.

In February 1998 the Siting Board voted to suspend the active siting process due to on-site storage capacity by New Jersey facilities, potential expansion of out-of-state disposal options, and a dramatic reduction in volume of LLRW generated in New Jersey. The Siting Board continued to ensure disposal options for New Jersey generators by monitoring New Jersey's generation of LLRW and by continued discussions with out-of-state disposal entities. The Siting Board also continued their efforts with public education on the use and disposal of radioactive materials.

Under the Siting Act, the NJDEP was responsible for providing technical support to the Board in the siting and development of the LLRW disposal facility. Since the Board suspended in-state siting activities and the Board no longer maintained its own staff, NJDEP staff provided the professional and clerical support to the Board.

As of July 1, 2000, New Jersey and Connecticut, the member states of the Northeast LLRW Compact, admitted South Carolina into membership. The Compact is now known as the Atlantic Compact. The agreement to join the Compact included access to the LLRW disposal facility in Barnwell, South Carolina for the generators of LLRW in New Jersey, Connecticut and South Carolina until all of the waste from the nuclear reactor decommissioning is disposed. Thus, the necessity for the Board to monitor, as well as to develop, disposal alternatives in the nation becomes diminished since LLRW disposal for NJ generators is assured for approximately the next 50 years.

In its public education efforts, the Board presented one Teacher Workshop in July 2000 and two Teacher’s Workshops both in July 2001 and July 2002. At these workshops, middle school science teachers developed curricula and lesson plans to teach their students about radioactive materials in everyday life and in the environment. Each year there has been an increase in content quality and teacher participation. Plans are underway for additional workshops in the summer of 2003.

In November 2001, $2 million of the Disposal Fund monies were returned to generators of LLRW in New Jersey in the same proportion as each contributed to the Disposal Fund from the assessments of FY-1992-1993, FY-1994 and FY-1998.

On Monday, December 2, 2002 Governor McGreevey signed the bills S1688 and A2435 which repealed sections of the LLRW Siting Act that effectively dissolved the Siting Board. Since forming the Atlantic Compact on July 1, 2000 New Jersey LLRW generators have long-term access to the disposal facility in Barnwell, South Carolina. Therefore, there was no longer a reason to continue looking for a site in New Jersey.

There are a few activities which will continue: monitoring the LLRW developments in the rest of the nation, assisting the Atlantic Compact commissioners in protecting the interests of the New Jersey generators, and providing educational opportunities for science teachers to include radioactivity in their curricula. The Radiation Protection Program in NJDEP will perform these activities.

The NJDEP and the citizens of New Jersey thank the members of the Siting Board and the Advisory Committee for their accomplishments in ensuring the safe, dependable, long-term disposal for LLRW generated in our State.

Dr. Jill Lipoti
NJDEP, Radiation Protection Programs
December 2002

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Department of Environmental Protection
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