Report: Managing Low-Level Radioactive Waste in New Jersey,
1987-1998 and Beyond, June 1998
Our Responsibilities: Siting a Disposal Facility for Low-Level
Radioactive Waste in New Jersey
Congress Takes Action
The Northeast Compact
The Siting Board
Into the Future
of the Siting Process in New Jersey
Public Information Materials Produced by the
DECEMBER 1987, THE NEW JERSEY legislature passed the Regional
Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility Siting Act. This
legislation, which was sponsored by then-Assemblyman John Bennett
(R-Monmouth), garnered bipartisan support and was signed into
law by Governor Tom Kean. It was adopted to meet the mandate
of federal legislation giving states responsibility for the
commercial low-level radioactive waste generated within their
borders that required special disposal.
Siting Act created the Siting Board and the New Jersey Radioactive
Waste Advisory Committee, each of which is comprised of unpaid
volunteers selected by the Governor with the ratification of
the Senate. The quasi-independent Board was given the statutory
responsibility to find a site, choose a disposal technology
and site operator, and oversee the construction, operation,
and eventual closure of the facility. The Advisory Committee
was charged with providing objective and independent advice
to the Board, and reviewing all matters related to siting and
developing a facility. Amendments to the Act in 1991 authorized
the Board to assess and collect fees from generators of low-level
radioactive waste in New Jersey to cover the costs of planning,
siting, and developing a disposal facility. It was envisioned
that generators would also pay all costs related to operating
and closing the facility, including monitoring and protection
measures, and the compensation and benefits that were to be
given to the host community.
the earliest years of the development of nuclear technologies,
disposal of radioactive waste was the responsibility of the
Atomic Energy Commission, the predecessor agency to the federal
Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
In the 1950s, several companies had also been licensed to dispose
of commercially generated low-level radioactive waste at sea.
the growth of non-military applications of nuclear technologies,
the AEC announced in 1960 that "regional" land disposal
sites for commercially generated low-level waste should be established
by the private sector. The sites would be located on government-owned
land and would be licensed and regulated by government agencies.
response to this policy, six commercially operated shallow-land
disposal facilities were licensed and operated in the United
States-in Beatty, Nevada; Maxey Flats, Kentucky; West Valley,
New York; Richland, Washington; Sheffield, Illinois; and Barnwell,
South Carolina. The Beatty facility, which opened in 1962, was
the first to begin operations; the Barnwell facility, opened
in 1971, was the last. Three of the facilities (Maxey Flats,
West Valley, and Sheffield) closed in the late 1970s. Water
management problems led to the closing of West Valley in 1975
and Maxey Flats two years later; in 1978, Sheffield was closed
after the operator experienced lengthy delays with its NRC license
renewal; Sheffields operator had requested an increase
in the lifetime and capacity of its original 20-acre tract,
a request that was denied by the NRC because of the discovery
of far more permeable sand and other coarse-grained deposits
than had been found in the original site investigation. The
Beatty facility closed to radioactive waste in December 1992
in accordance with an agreement between the Governor of Nevada
and the Rocky Mountain Compact Board.
problems experienced in the developmental years of commercial
low-level waste disposal led to the recognition that the regulations
controlling the licensing of radioactive materials did not contain
sufficient technical standards or criteria. More comprehensive
standards, technical criteria, and licensing requirements were
needed for the selection of disposal site locations, the form
and characteristics of waste allowed for disposal, and operational
1982, the NRC added a new part to Title 10 Code of Federal Regulations:
Part 61, Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of Radioactive
Wastes. This regulation established a series of performance
objectives and technical and financial requirements which a
disposal site and site operator must meet in order to ensure
public health, safety, and long-term protection of the environment.
The regulation established four performance objectives: to protect
the general population from releases of radioactivity; to protect
workers during site operations; to protect any individual who
inadvertently enters a disposal site after the site is closed;
and to ensure long-term stability at disposal sites to eliminate
the need for ongoing active maintenance after closure.
the late 1970s, the National Governors Association and
the Congress began to look into the disposal situation at the
urging of the governors of Washington, Nevada, and South Carolina.
In 1979, the governors of Washington and Nevada temporarily
closed their states facilities to waste generated outside
their borders, and threatened permanent closure if the federal
government did not make provisions for future low-level radioactive
waste disposal and a more equitable distribution of disposal
Congress enacted the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act
of 1980, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2021b et seq., which made states responsible
for disposing of their own commercial low-level waste and set
forth the federal policy that waste disposal is best handled
on a regional basis. This waste does not include low-level radioactive
waste produced by the U. S. Department of Energy or waste generated
by the federal government from the production of nuclear weapons.
Nor does it include low-level radioactive waste that has the
highest concentrations of radioactivity. Disposal responsibility
for all of these wastes rests with the federal government.
that the critical issues were access as well as equity, the
Act also encouraged states to enter into regional alliances,
or "compacts," for the purpose of siting disposal
facilities, and established January 1, 1986 as the deadline
after which a compact could exclude waste generated beyond its
boundaries. Compacts, which had to be constituted between two
or more states, were to be approved by Congress; unaffiliated
states could not form a compact unilaterally, nor could they
exclude waste from outside their boundaries.
it became clear that only those compacts having existing disposal
facilities would be able to meet the 1986 deadline, the National
Governors Association sent another proposal to Congress,
which led to the passage in 1985 of the Low-Level Radioactive
Waste Policy Amendments Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2021d et seq. This
legislation extended the operation of the three existing disposal
sites to December 31, 1992; established specific milestones
states had to meet in order to maintain access to the facilities
operating at the time; set up strong incentives to encourage
states without sites to site, license, and construct facilities;
and gave congressional approval to seven compacts-Central, Central
Midwest, Midwest, Northeast, Rocky Mountain, Southeast, and
Northwest. In subsequent congressional sessions, two additional
compacts-the Appalachian and the Southwestern-were ratified.
The Texas Compact, comprised of Texas, Maine, and Vermont, awaits
action by a conference committee to resolve differences in the
language approving this compact. Today, all but six states-New
York, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Rhode Island,
and South Carolina-along with Puerto Rico and the District of
Columbia are members of the ten compacts ratified by Congress
since the passage of the Amendments Act.
most controversial part in the Amendments Act was its "take-title"
provision. This required states unable to provide for disposal
capacity by January 1, 1993 to take legal title to all low-level
radioactive waste generated within their borders at the request
of the waste generator; it was intended as the ultimate incentive
to encourage states to site regional facilities. This portion
of the Act was declared unconstitutional by the United States
Supreme Court in 1992 on a challenge brought by New York and
two of its counties. The Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality
of the rest of the Act.
January 1, 1993, the three states with operating disposal facilities
were no longer required to continue accepting waste from outside
the borders of their compacts. On that date, Nevada closed its
Beatty facility. Washington continued the operation of its Richland
facility, accepting waste only from the Northwest and Rocky
Mountain Compacts. South Carolina continued to accept waste
from some states outside its compact, including New Jersey,
through June 30, 1994, when it closed Barnwell to all but Southeast
Compact members. Access had been allowed under contract, provided
that states were judged by the Southeast Compact to be making
adequate progress in siting their own disposal facilities.
year later, the South Carolina Legislature reopened Barnwell
to all states except North Carolina, excluding its neighbor
ostensibly because it had not fulfilled its commitment to the
Southeast Compact to have a disposal facility in operation by
1995. The reopening of Barnwell has allowed for continued disposal
of waste from New Jersey through the present. This arrangement,
which exists on a year-to-year basis, is complicated by substantial
financial requirements of the state of South Carolina that has
led Chem-Nuclear, the operator of the Barnwell facility, to
float some long-term proposals that would permit the facility
to operate for at least another twenty years. The response to
the proposals by generators thus far, in New Jersey and elsewhere,
has been tepid at best.
the wake of the passage of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy
Act, representatives of the Coalition of Northeast Governors,
an organization representing eleven states, negotiated the framework
for the Northeast Compact, of which New Jersey is a member.
Over an 18-month period, a series of public meetings were conducted
to develop the provisions of the compact. This task was completed
in 1983, and the legislation establishing the compact was sent
to the governors of the eleven states. However, the legislatures
of only four states-
Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland-adopted the legislation.
After the passage of the Amendments Act of 1985, Delaware and
Maryland decided to join the Appalachian Compact, with the understanding
that Pennsylvania was to be the first host state for the low-level
waste generated by compact members.
Jerseys Siting Board was appointed in 1988 and held its
first meeting that September. The Board initially retained the
services of Association Management Corporation, a professional
management firm, to handle the various administrative functions
of the Boards operations. During this time, the Board
developed Requests for Proposals both for technical services
related to statewide screening and siting, and for public information,
a critical component of the siting effort.
the Board hired a small staff, headed by Samuel Penza, and engaged
consultants, it also developed siting criteria. Acting upon
the recommendation of the Advisory Committee, the Board adopted
performance-based rather than prescriptive criteria: the Board
emphasized what was to be protected, rather than how to protect
legislation that created the Siting Board, modeled largely after
the states hazardous waste siting commission legislation,
envisioned a "top-down" approach to siting a disposal
facility. This traditional method was to be geographically neutral:
Technical consultants would apply the siting criteria across
the state, narrowing potential candidates to 18–20 geologically
diverse sites around the state. Then in open public forums,
the Board would further narrow down the field to six sites-without
knowing the specific locations. These would become public only
when the Board notified the respective towns that land within
their jurisdiction had been designated for preliminary analysis
and evaluation, or "site characterization." The goal
was to ultimately reduce the field to three for preliminary
characterization and then choose one.
part of the siting effort, the Board placed emphasis on statewide
and regional outreach to civic, professional, and governmental
groups across the state. In addition to seeking and generating
media coverage of the issues and its activities, the Board exhibited
at conventions and placed articles in various organizational
publications; spoke before a variety of interested groups; and
began producing a variety of public informational materials
(a selection appears in the Appendix on page XX). In addition,
anticipating that generators would have to begin interim storage
of low-level radioactive waste after January 1, 1993, the Board
worked closely with generators to ensure that the transition
from out-of- state disposal to on-site storage would go smoothly.
the experiences of other states as well as provinces in Canada,
it soon became apparent to members of the Board that the top-down
approach did not augur well for a successful siting process.
As New Jersey was preparing to notify municipal officials that
it was about to initiate statewide screening, Connecticut, which
had employed this methodology, announced its proposed sites
to a chorus of outrage. Public outcry led to political roadblocks.
New Jerseys Board made a sobering assessment of the lack
of progress on this issue nationally, and concluded that even
when this type of process produces a site, it leads to controversy
and acrimony and time-consuming lawsuits. In addition, the Board
felt that the top-down method rarely allowed all the people
potentially affected by the facility to get meaningful information
and answers to their questions and concerns before a decision
has been made. So, beginning in the fall of 1992, the Board
charged the Advisory Committee with developing a blueprint for
siting a disposal facility using a different type of decision-making
process: a voluntary approach to siting.
accomplish its mandate, the Advisory Committee embarked on an
18-month effort, studying siting initiatives in the United States
and in Canada, meeting with numerous groups and individuals
across the state thought to have a stake in the siting of a
disposal facility, and commissioning sessions with focus groups
to further refine how to give the voluntary approach the best
chance for success in New Jersey. Emergency responders, municipal
officials, and planners, as well as representatives of environmental
groups, labor organizations, and facilities generating low-level
radioactive waste provided valuable input. After listening to
all of them, and motivated by the desire to create a flexible
yet environmentally sound approach to siting the disposal facility,
the Advisory Committee recommended a process which it felt would
encourage communities to consider volunteering a site for the
facility. New Jersey generators, it should be noted, actively
worked with the Board, and even formed their own organization,
the New Jersey Radioactive Materials Management Group.
grappling with the issues associated with siting a disposal
facility in New Jersey, the Board anticipated that concerns
about local property values in a potential host community would
be a key consideration. The Board commissioned the Center for
Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Rutgers University to
gather information to help the Board in designing a comprehensive
multi-purpose assistance program for the host community that
would address mitigation, compensation, and incentives.
June 1994, the Board published its Proposed Voluntary Siting
Plan, and during the summer and fall of 1994 sponsored a series
of public meetings and hearings at locations across the state.
Public comments on the proposed plan endorsed the idea of a
voluntary approach. The Board revised the plan-without changing
or compromising siting criteria-based on the suggestions it
received both at the meetings and in writing, and adopted New
Jerseys Voluntary Plan for Siting a Low-Level Radioactive
Waste Disposal Facility at its public meeting on February 2,
Boards efforts were spurred in 1994-95 when the disposal
facility at Barnwell, South Carolina closed to all but members
of the Southeast Compact. This development left generators with
no option but to store all of their low-level waste on site.
The emerging crisis passed when a newly elected administration
in South Carolina decided to reopen Barnwell to states outside
the compact, charging them a hefty surcharge for the privilege
of burying their waste in the sands of Barnwell County.
List of past and present
Siting Board, Advisory Committee and Staff
the voluntary siting plan meant a focused, concentrated effort
at public outreach and public information. New Board Executive
Director John Weingart criss-crossed the state, speaking to
a wide variety of groups, from Rotary Clubs to planning associations
to governmental entities. Bolstering its initial public information
effort, the Board began publishing a quarterly news update,
disseminating that publication along with several brochures
and reports to public officials, waste generators, environmentalists
and other interested parties throughout the state. The Board
set up a Web page on the Internet to assist in its effort to
effectively disseminate information to anyone with interest
in the issues. The Board solicited doctors, scientists, and
educators from across the state to sign a statement that "A
disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste would be a
safe neighbor." The Boards efforts continued to generate
generally positive media coverage.
was the guarantee of $2 million a year over the projected 50-year
operating life of the disposal facility that spurred interest
in dozens of communities. This amount was derived from quantifying
an approximation of the host community benefits included by
the Legislature in the Siting Act. In several instances, preliminary
discussions indicated that a particular site or community would
not meet the stringent requirements for the facility, i.e.,
the community was located in the Pinelands, or a possible site
was in a 100-year flood plain. Discussions with those communities
the three years during which the voluntary approach was actively
pursued by the Board, 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 public interest to inspire attention
in the local and regional press. In fourteen of those communities,
local officials began public processes intended to fully explore
whether or not they should volunteer to host the disposal facility.
difficulty the Board ran up against time and again, however,
was fear-fear that having a disposal facility for low-level
radioactive waste in a town would decrease property values;
that it would cause irreparable harm to peoples health
and well-being; that it would irredeemably pollute the environment
as well as disrupt the relative tranquillity of the community;
and that claims and promises by government officials-as well
as the expertise of scientists and engineers-to the contrary
could not be trusted. In most of the towns in which the issue
was raised, fear led to opposition so immediate and intense
that local officials who had supported studying the possibility
felt compelled to end the study process within weeks-or at most
three months-of its inception. The other potential volunteer
towns were eliminated by the Board because preliminary examination
indicated that they had no available locations likely to meet
the stringent siting criteria.
spur its efforts to get all the facts on the table so that people
in a community could decide if considering the possibility of
volunteering to host New Jerseys disposal facility was
an option worth pursuing, the Board commissioned the New Jersey
Office of Dispute Settlement to compile a Sourcebook on Low-Level
Radioactive Waste, which lists organizations with various points
of view that could offer speakers and/or literature on the subject.
The Board funded the Environmental Sciences Training Center
at Rutgers University to research and produce a series of Fact
Sheets on radioactive materials and low-level radioactive waste.
The Board funded the New Jersey League of Women Voters
Education Fund to compile an informational handbook, to produce
a videotape that explored the various facets of siting, and
to organize and co-sponsor, with the New Jersey State League
of Municipalities and Rutgers, workshops designed to explore
towns in which interest was expressed to learn more, the Board
displayed its exhibit in municipal buildings. In some towns,
it co-sponsored Open Houses at which organizations with various
viewpoints on the use of radioactive materials and the siting
of a disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste could
be heard. (The Board learned fairly early on not to hold or
attend a large public meeting as its first point of contact
with many members of a community, since those meetings shed
more heat than light.)
many residents of the communities that invited the Board to
speak were interested in learning the facts as a prelude to
making an informed decision, many of their fellow residents
already had their minds made up: Not In My Back Yard! Discussion
of the facts-and the not inconsiderable benefits that the host
community would receive-became irrelevant. Demands that town
officials cease considering the possibility not only of hosting
but even of learning the facts quickly became so loud and persistent
that even town officials who were absolutely convinced that
the disposal facility would be safe and beneficial decided that
intense local controversy over a two-year study period was too
high a price to pay.
of the difficulties that became apparent in several communities
that expressed initial interest in learning more about the issues
and the process was the inability of sponsors, working with
the Board, to create an inclusive forum for meaningful public
discussion. A second problem that proved insurmountable was
the inability of sponsors to develop a vocal core group of followers
who would advocate at least having the opportunity to learn
and evaluate the facts and explore different points of view
before rendering judgment on whether or not hosting the disposal
facility might be right for their community. Almost by definition,
people who believed this idea would cause cancer in their community
acted with far more passion than those who thought this a potentially
interesting economic development option.
Carneys Point (Salem County), the last community to make an
effort to learn about the issues, the Board, at the behest of
town leaders, agreed to offer up to $750,000 up front in incentive
money-money that would go to the town without obligation just
to learn about the issues in the course of a 16-month process.
Despite the hopes of the towns Economic Development Commission,
which had spearheaded the towns interest, public comment
against the proposal-at community meetings, in letters to the
editor-undercut and quickly curtailed the development of any
meaningful public dialogue.
the passage of the Siting Act, generators have made substantial
efforts to reduce the volume, if not the activity, of the low-level
waste that is the unavoidable by-product of the products and
processes that use radioactive materials. At the same time,
they have each constructed or designated space on-site capable
of temporarily storing all the waste they expect to generate
for at least five years. Many do, in fact, have a considerably
longer storage capability; GPU Nuclears power plant at
Oyster Creek can, if necessary, store all of the low-level waste
it generates up until the time the plant is decommissioned.
In addition, other developments nationally might expand the
out-of-state disposal options for New Jersey generators. These
developments, along with the dramatic reduction in waste volume
in New Jersey, which call into question the economic viability
at this time of building a disposal facility for low-level radioactive
waste generated exclusively in New Jersey, led the Board to
suspend active siting efforts.
active siting has ceased, the Board does anticipate continuing
its efforts to monitor and track national developments in the
management of low-level radioactive waste. Currently, two privately
operated facilities-Barnwell in South Carolina and Envirocare
in Utah-service New Jersey generators. Other private firms are
seeking to open disposal sites in Colorado and Utah. And the
possibility remains that disposal facilities may open in Texas
and California. In addition, various private interests are exploring
new technologies to treat and/or consolidate waste products.
The progress of these efforts may reduce or even eliminate the
need for additional disposal facilities in New Jersey and elsewhere.
The Board expects to actively monitor-and keep the Governor,
legislators, and generators apprised of-these and any other
emergent developments, as well as the elimination of, or obstacles
encountered by, once-promising technologies and options.
Board Chairman Paul Wyszkowski cautioned in a letter to the
Governor in the wake of the Boards vote in February 1998
to suspend the active siting effort, although "the Siting
Board continues to believe that a disposal facility for low-
level radioactive waste would provide a safe, light industrial
addition to New Jerseys economic base...we want to stress
that the problem the Board was created to address has not been
solved; New Jerseys utilities, industries, hospitals,
research labs and universities do not have a secure long-term
disposal option for the low-level radioactive waste they generate.
While this is not a current crisis, it does require continued
attention and vigilance."
education. To fulfill its legislative mandate, the Board expects
to expand its public education effort concerning the management
of low-level radioactive waste. Although sound and safe management
technologies now exist for handling, storing, and disposing
of this waste, the general public has not reached a level of
understanding and confidence that this can be accomplished in
a manner that protects public health and safety.
Board remains firm in its belief that the voluntary siting process
would eventually have led to one or more municipalities in the
state to choose to host the disposal facility. The Board also
has profited from lessons it has learned that should be of value
not only when, and if, the siting process is revived, but that
should have relevance to officials and citizens grappling with
other controversial land-use issues as well.
following sources were cited in compiling this narrative:
in Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management: A Brief History of
Commercial Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal, published
in August 1994 by the National Low-Level Waste Management Program.
Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management, published by the
U. S. Department of Energy.
Northeast Compact: An Interstate Agreement for Regional Low-Level
Radioactive Waste Management, published in April 1995 by
the Northeast Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission.
Regulations Govern the Siting of a Low-Level Radioactive Waste
Disposal Facility?", one of 18 Fact Sheets researched,
written, produced, and disseminated by the Environmental Sciences
Training Center of Rutgers University under contract to the
New Jersey Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility Siting
Jerseys Voluntary Plan for Siting a Low-Level Radioactive
Waste Disposal Facility, produced and published in March
1995 by the New Jersey Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal
Facility Siting Board.
of the Siting Process in New Jersey
At the behest of the Governors of three states which were then
the repositories for all of the low-level radioactive waste
generated in the country, and at the urging of the National
Governors Association, Congress passes legislation that
gives the states the responsibility for the disposal of the
low-level waste generated within their borders. The law encourages
the formation of interstate "compacts," or associations,
to cooperate in managing and disposing of low-level radioactive
waste on a regional basis. The law offers compacts approved
by Congress the authority to restrict use of their regional
disposal facilities to waste generated within the respective
The law is amended to spur movement on the part of the states,
requiring states and compact regions not having disposal facilities
to meet specific milestones and deadlines leading to the operation
of new disposal facilities by 1993 and extending the operation
of the three existing disposal sites through December 1992.
New Jersey enacts the Northeast Interstate Low-Level Radioactive
Waste Management Compact Act.
86: The Northeast Compact is ratified by Congress.
In addition to New Jersey and Connecticut, original members
of the compact include Delaware and Maryland, which later defect
and join the Appalachian Compact.
87: New Jersey and Connecticut are each designated
by the Compact to host disposal facilities. The Regional Low-Level
Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility Siting Act becomes law.
88: The 11-member Siting Board and 13-member
Advisory Committee on Radioactive Waste are constituted, having
been appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate.
89: The Board hires Samuel Penza as its executive
director and begins assembling a staff.
89: The Board awards a contract to EBASCO (later
acquired by the Foster Wheeler Environmental Corporation) as
its site research consultant, and to Holt, Ross and Yulish as
public affairs consultant.
89: The Board, the Northeast Compact, and the
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection meet with
generators to discuss the siting process and the upcoming federal
milestones. This is the first of many meetings with generators.
89: The Board issues preliminary siting criteria
and conducts public hearings. These are the first of several
sets of public forums designed to get public input into the
90: Public hearings are conducted on revised
siting criteria and the proposed waste disposal plan.
90: The Board approves a "geographically
neutral approach for screening and selecting sites for
90: The Board adopts the final Siting Criteria
Report, which lays out the criteria a disposal site must meet.
90: The Board adopts the Waste Disposal Plan,
mandated by the Siting Act, which discusses waste projections,
the decommissioning of the four nuclear power plants in New
Jersey, and issues surrounding the transportation of low-level
90: The Board sends Insight, the first in a series
of quarterly newsletters, to officials across the state.
90: The Board begins its public outreach effort
with an information booth at the New Jersey State League of
Municipalities convention. This is the first of many such appearances
by the Board-before civic, environmental, governmental, and
educational groups-the goal of which is to familiarize community
leaders with the issues of low-level radioactive waste disposal,
the role of the Board in effecting a solution for New Jersey,
and the mechanics of the siting process.
91: The Board sponsors forums held at Cook College,
Rutgers University, aimed at giving local officials and health
officers background information about low-level waste and the
siting effort in New Jersey, and getting feedback from these
leaders on the issues.
91: The Siting Act is amended, with the active
support of generators, authorizing the Board to assess and collect
fees from generators for all costs related to the Boards
operation, including site selection and construction.
91: The Board conducts public hearings on its
proposed fee assessment rule.
92: The Board adopts its fee assessment rule.
The Board and Advisory Committee commence discussions concerning
a voluntary siting program, and establish a subcommittee to
explore the feasibility of such an approach.
92: The Siting Board sends its first fee assessment
bills totaling just under $13 million, to generators.
92: Generators organize as the New Jersey Radioactive
Materials Management Group.
United States Supreme Court declares the "take-title"
provision in the federal siting act unconstitutional, but reaffirms
all other provisions of the law.
Board addresses the Environ-mental Commission in East Amwell
Township (Hunterdon County) after officials express interest
in learning more about siting the disposal facility. In the
wake of the meeting, township officials decide to proceed no
92: The Board directs EBASCO to cease screening
activities under its original site selection methodology pending
development of a voluntary siting program.
92: The Advisory Committee begins to develop
a blueprint for implementing a voluntary approach to siting.
working with the Office of Dispute Settlement, a unit of the
Department of the Public Advocate.
92: The Board holds the first of twelve meetings
with interest groups across the state, consulting with them
on how the Board might structure a voluntary approach to siting
the disposal facility. These meetings were facilitated by the
Office of Dispute Settlement and the New Jersey League of Women
92: The Northeast Compact executes an agreement
with the Southeast Compact for continued access to the disposal
facility in Barnwell County, South Carolina through June 1994.
Star-Ledger runs a series of front-page articles on low-level
radioactive waste and its disposal.
92: The Board adopts a policy statement on "seeking
a volunteer community to host a disposal facility as an alternate
Site Identification Methodology."
93: Northeast Compact partner Connecticut makes
a surprise offer of $100 million to the Texas legislature to
become part of a compact being contemplated by Texas. The offer
93: The Board approves a fee assessment of generators
of $2.5 million.
93: Siting Board Executive Director informs the
Northeast Compact of New Jerseys displeasure with Connecticuts
unilateral action to attempt to join a compact with Texas.
93: The first working draft of the voluntary
siting plan prepared by the Advisory Committee is presented
to the Board for input.
93: The Board and Advisory Committee hold a workshop
with experts in the siting of waste facilities to finalize the
guiding principles of the voluntary siting approach.
94: The Board approves a resolution adopting
a voluntary approach to siting the disposal facility and seeking
public input into this approach prior to final adoption in September
94: A five-month comment period on the proposed
voluntary siting plan begins.
Penza, Executive Director of the Board since 1989, retires.
94: The disposal facility in Barnwell, South
Carolina, to which New Jersey generators had been sending their
waste, closes to all states outside the Southeast Compact. On-site
interim storage begins in New Jersey.
94: John R. Weingart is named the new Executive
Director of the Board.
94: The Environmental Commission in Mansfield
(Warren County) votes to invite Board representatives to attend
a meeting. Before the invitation is sent, however, local opposition
causes the invitation to be rescinded.
95: The Board adopts the Voluntary Siting Plan.
95: Board staff gives a presentation to a standing-room
only crowd in a too-small room in Roosevelt (Monmouth County).
the Board is speaking with Roosevelt officials, someone in Montgomery
Township (Somerset County) misinterprets a talk by the Siting
Board Executive Director before the local Rotary Club as an
indication that there might be local interest in exploring the
voluntary process. He anonymously prints up flyers, which generate
several local news stories.
95: The Environmental Commission of Roosevelt,
which had extended the invitation to the Board, votes 6-0 in
support of a study, but the Town Council votes 4-2 to cease
any consideration of hosting the disposal facility.
of a new Board publication describing the Voluntary Siting Process
is sent to legislators, mayors, health officers, municipal clerks,
and environmental commissions of every town, borough, and city
in the state.
95: The Mayor of Elsinboro publicly suggests
that the township consider volunteering. After meeting with
the township engineer and examining area maps, Board staff conclude
that no potentially suitable sites appeared to be available
within the towns borders.
95: The Board adopts the Voluntary Site Evaluation
response to the dissemination of the voluntary plan, the Township
Committee of Alloway (Salem County) meets with Board staff.
95: The disposal facility in Barnwell reopens
to all states except North Carolina, as South Carolina withdraws
from the Southeast Compact, angered at the slow pace of development
of a new disposal facility in North Carolina.
in Alloway (Salem County) and a landowner with property straddling
Hamburg and Hardyston (Sussex County) express interest in learning
more about the voluntary process.
95: The Sussex County chapter of the League of
Women Voters schedules an Open House in Hamburg. Two days before
the event, the Hamburg Council votes to prohibit the use of
any municipal building for such an event, causing the League
to postpone. The neighboring community of Hardyston votes to
oppose the siting of a low-level radioactive waste disposal
facility on or near its borders. Sussex freeholders adopt a
resolution opposing locating a disposal facility anywhere in
Sussex County. No public meetings are held with the Board.
staff makes a presentation before the Ruritan Club in Alloway.
95: The Alloway Township Committee, responding
to public disapproval voiced in petitions and meetings, votes
to discontinue its investigation of the possibility of siting
a disposal facility in the township.
95: A new question-and-answer booklet is mailed
to all mayors, environmental commission, planning boards and
others across the state on the Boards mailing list. This
becomes the best and most widely
disseminated introduction to the Voluntary Siting Process.
95: During public meetings, Planning Board officials
in Springfield (Burlington County) discuss looking into the
96: Public hearings are held in Trenton, Jersey
City, and Glassboro on the 1996 Disposal Plan Update.
96: Ten community leaders from Springfield visit
Barnwell on an information- gathering mission before their town
decides whether or not to explore the possibilities of volunteering
to host New Jerseys disposal facility.
96: A workshop on low-level radioactive waste,
funded by the Siting Board, is co-sponsored by The League of
Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund, the New Jersey State
League of Municipalities, and Rutgers University. It attracts
more than 200 participants.
staff begin developing a Request for Proposal for a private
company to design, build, and operate the disposal facility.
Board adopts the Preliminary Site Investigation Program for
Evaluating a Potential Site for New Jerseys Low-Level
Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility.
Town Council in Pennsville (Salem County) passes a resolution
requesting the Siting Board to advise them if they have any
suitable land. The Board replies that they do not. The township
suggests it may offer additional information for the Boards
Township (Cape May County) forms a committee to look into the
siting process. After a meeting at which the Boards Executive
Director speaks, the municipal council votes to take no further
action at this time.
96: The Springfield Township Planning Board votes
to take no further action regarding a study to learn about the
issues, as over 200 residents attend a meeting in which this
issue is not even on the agenda.
Board approves the Update to the New Jersey Low-Level Radioactive
Waste Disposal Plan.
96: Representatives of five more towns, including
Commercial Township (Cumberland County), contact the Siting
Board. In some cases, Board staff inform the caller that his/her
town could not be the site for the disposal facility because
it is in the Pinelands, or in a 100-year flood plain, or not
enough acreage is available. One of them-Fairfield (Cumberland
County)-begins an active public exploration of learning about
the issues with an eye towards volunteering.
96: The Board issues a Request for Information
to solicit guidance that would enable staff to develop the RFP
for a company to design, license, operate, and close a disposal
staff brings a model of the proposed disposal facility and its
exhibit to Fairfield (Cumberland County) at the request of the
township Environmental Commission. Officials in Fairfield form
a group of residents to study the issues.
96: The Fairfield Town Committee unexpectedly
votes to end looking into the process.
96: The Board adopts the Site Characterization
Program for Evaluating a Potential Site for New Jerseys
Low-Level Radio- active Waste Disposal Facility.
96: The Board sends a letter to the Northeast
Compact Commission asking that $500,000 in federal rebate money
be made available as an upfront incentive to a potential host
community. This request is made to the Commission because the
New Jersey Siting Act does not appear to permit the Board itself
to make grants to interested communities.
96: The Environmental Commission in Bethlehem
Township (Hunterdon County) contacts the Board.
96: A workshop designed for local officials,
entitled "Weighing More Facts: Municipal Issues in Low-Level
Waste Management," co-sponsored by the League of Women
Voters Education Fund, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities,
and Rutgers University, is held at Rowan University in Glassboro.
The focus of the conference is how to balance community concerns
and options in discussing tough public land-use issues, and
how to initiate community dialogue.
97: Open Houses are held in Bethlehem Township.
A subsequent review of potential sites by staff and a state
geologist determines that no site in the township has the requisite
characteristics that would make it viable for the disposal facility.
The Board sends a letter to Bethlehem, formally ending the discussion.
Subsequently, the Bethlehem Town Council also ceases the exploratory
97: Officials in Delaware Township (Hunterdon
County) publicly discuss learning about the issues to possibly
97: The Delaware Township Committee votes to
send the Board a letter expressing "no further interest"
in pursuing the idea.
97: South Harrison Township (Gloucester County)
forms a study group to begin looking into the issues. The township
committee sends a letter to all residents informing them of
its action. An Open House is held. Four days later, the Township
Committee votes to end the process.
Northeast Compact approves the proposal to make $500,000 available
to a municipality identified by the Siting Board.
97: Revisions to the Preliminary Site Investigation
Program, which reflect a revised management schedule to better
meet the needs of a potential host community, are adopted by
97: Chem-Nuclear, which operates the disposal
facility in Barnwell, acknowledges a shortfall in the anticipated
volume of low-level radioactive waste it will receive. Since
payments it owes to the state of South Carolina are fixed by
law, this means Chem-Nuclear will have to raise almost $7 million
to meet its obligations to the state. This impels a plan to
sell most of the remaining space at the Barnwell facility now
for future disposal for $235 a cubic foot plus usage costs.
97: Following preliminary discussions with the
Carneys Point Economic Development Commission, the Siting Board
votes to enter into a contract with Carneys Point (Salem County)
for an amount not to exceed $750,000 for "all reasonable
expenses" that would be incurred as the township considers
all aspects of volunteering to host the disposal facility. The
EDC mails a newsletter to every town resident and holds a public
weeks later, the Township Committee votes to cease the siting
98: The Siting Board votes to suspend the siting
process, citing the continued though unpredictable availability
of out-of-state disposal combined with a dramatic reduction
in the volume of waste generated.
Board de-authorizes its contract with the Carneys Point EDC
and reimburses Carneys Point for the $47,000 it incurred in
Waste Disposal" is a double whammy, a deadly designation.
"Radioactive" strikes a chord of fear to generations
nurtured on the images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Chernobyl
and Three Mile Island. And no one wants "waste disposal"
in their backyard, no matter how benign the waste may be or
how beneficial a disposal facility may be to a community.
about the beneficial role of radioactive materials in our
society is rife among the general public. At the same time,
there is little understanding of the realistic risks of exposure
to small amounts of radiation-and little willingness to assume
responsibility for the waste that results during the processes
that use nuclear materials.
opposition in New Jersey resulted from spontaneous, gut-level
fear on the part of a plurality of residents in a community
that announced it was looking into the issue. Opposition was
neither created nor stirred up by organized opposition groups.
National opposition groups, particularly NIRS, the Nuclear
Information and Resource Service, did provide informational
materials, arguments, and anecdotes that, particularly with
the growing use of the Internet, was quickly disseminated
in each town. Many of the "facts" cited by these
groups seemed to be half-truths and misrepresentations based
on their belief that all nuclear power plants should be shut
siting a disposal facility in any town is to have a shot,
proponents who want to learn about the issues must be identified-and
be willing to be vocal and visible. They need not be convinced
that they want their community to host the facility but only
to have the opportunity to uncover the facts, then make up
their own minds on the whether or not to volunteer.
is important to work closely with community leaders to develop
a plan-and to plan a series of mailings, forums, and events-to
let residents know about the interest community leaders have
in exploring the issues.
people to discuss an issue that has a legacy of misinformation
and mistrust, an issue that has been demonized in the popular
culture, takes an extraordinary effort to address public fears
any public dialogue at a large meeting is a tactical blunder.
Those opposed to the idea of siting can shout down advocates
of learning about the issues. A dialogue on the facts gets
subsumed by the emotion of the encounter.
in favor of initiating a dialogue need a good reason to stand
up to the arguments of those who dont want to even discuss
the issues, and to endure a lengthy debate and a heated controversy.
may want to see money up front if they are to go through a
wrenching and cantankerous public process/dialogue, and they
may deserve such funds simply for agreeing to try to help
solve a state problem. Elected officials and other community
leaders cannot be expected to take flak for something for
which, even if ultimately successful, their successors will
reap all the benefits. And the public cannot be expected to
trust that the benefits will be forthcoming without seeing
tangible gains now.
leaders-even those with experience in dealing with difficult
and controversial public issues-are not prepared for the scope
and depth of fear and anger that surfaces when people think
that a facility for radioactive waste might be sited in their
of backyards, in a small, densely populated state like New
Jersey, nobody wants anything built near them, certainly not
in their backyard. And the opposition-it is a lot easier to
be opposed to a controversial proposal than it is to be willing
to learn about it-often is more significant than the specifics
of the proposal.
the dramatic decrease in the volume of waste generated in
New Jersey, it does not appear economically viable at this
time to build a disposal facility for New Jerseys waste
alone. The problem of securing a safe, dependable, long-term
disposal option for the disposal of low-level radioactive
waste generated in New Jersey remains. If New Jersey is to
restart a siting process at some point in the future, it should
consider designing a facility to accept waste from Connecticut
as well as New Jersey generators-and perhaps from other states
State should take an active lead in developing or sponsoring
a program to help educate citizens about the benefits we as
a society enjoy from the use of radioactive materials; the
risks we face by exposure to radiation; the risks we face
not only by the use of radioactive materials but the dangers
we face by not using them or not providing for their proper
disposal; the potential for new uses for radioactive materials
in the future (along with the incumbent risk); the need for
society to take responsibility for the waste we produce.
and if the need to site a disposal facility reemerges, this
educative process can provide a critical underpinning for
any rational discussion of the issue of how we must deal with
low-level radioactive waste. Education can be accomplished
on several fronts simultaneously: giving presentations before
such groups as science teachers, school administrators, public
officials, and environmental organizations; developing an
education module that can be adapted in science classes at
appropriate grade levels; holding conferences and workshops
on the issue of low-level radioactive waste.
is tempting but naive to say, "Lets work with the
media to increase public awareness." The reality is that
coverage is generated by news, i.e., when a community announces
it is actively considering hosting a disposal facility. But
feature coverage of the generic issues can be encouraged by
creatively reaching out to environmental reporters with "hooks"
on which they might hang a story.
"radioactive waste disposal" is, to too many citizens,
a triple whammy that precludes informed, give-and-take debate,
a change in the name of the Siting Board that stresses "management"-and
one that entails less cumbersome terminology-could prove helpful.
entity charged with siting a disposal facility must have the
flexibility to make decisions and negotiate with municipalities.
This effort will be enhanced if
the Board can reimburse in a timely manner expenses incurred
by a community looking into the possibility of volunteering;
the Board is formally endowed with the authority to offer
and provide incentive or reward money to a community during
the process of consideration, which may be as important as
the promise of money down the line once the disposal facility
the Board remains a quasi-independent body;
Board staff remain independent, hired by and reporting to
the Siting Board not only so that they have a mandate to focus
on their mission, but also so that they can be dismissed if
their services are no longer required;
The Board commence a bimonthly or quarterly schedule beginning
Siting Act should be amended to:
recognize and specifically authorize the voluntary process
adopted by the Board;
continue to prohibit locating a disposal facility in the State
Pinelands area, but permit consideration of sites outside
the State Pinelands area that are within the Federal Pinelands
Reserve. This would enable military reservations such as McGuire
Air Force Base and Fort Dix, as well as property controlled
by the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Plant, to be evaluated
if requested by a potential host community so long as they
meet the stringent siting criteria adopted by the Board;
permit consideration of a facility design that emphasizes
ongoing, long- term management and oversight as an alternative
to permanent disposal of low-level radioactive waste. A long-term
isolation facility that preserves options for future waste
management by incorporating into its design accessibility
for direct inspection and preventive maintenance may prove
to be feasible-as well as publicly acceptable;
authorize the Siting Board to make unrestricted grants to
communities during the process of consideration;
remove the requirement for an adjudicatory hearing before
an Administrative Law Judge if the potential host community
is selected in a voluntary siting process. The hearing requirement
automatically turns a voluntary process into an adversarial
it is determined at a later date that a disposal facility
is in fact needed in New Jersey, the ability of the Board
to coordinate programs at the front end with those of other
state agencies, e.g., Department of Community Affairs, Economic
Development Authority, Green Acres, will be useful. This will
enable the State to provide favored status to towns that consider
helping solve a problem that affects all communities in New
it does not appear to be economically viable to build a disposal
facility for New Jersey waste only, the State needs to discuss
and consider other options and arrangements, i.e., accepting
waste from Connecticut, the other member of the Northeast
Compact, or from other states if a disposal facility is to
be built in New Jersey.
better counter, or respond to one of the oft-expressed concerns
of interested communities, a thorough effort must be made
to address the issue of property value guarantees both during
the siting process as well as when the facility is operational.
three separate contracts-between the Board and the host community;
between the Board and the facility operator; and between the
facility operator and the community-can help reassure residents
that everyone will deliver on the promises they have made.
the parameters of the contract between the Board/State and
the facility operator, and the contract between the Board/State
and the host community should be a joint project of the Board
and an agency with expertise in designing and awarding large
contracts such as the EDA or a similar State entity.
Information Materials Produced by the Siting Board
Jerseys Voluntary Plan for Siting a Low-Level Radioactive
Waste Disposal Facility. This 28-page book lays out the
reasons why New Jersey needs to have a site at which generators
can dependably and permanently dispose of the low-level radioactive
waste they generate. It explains the philosophy and objectives-as
well as the steps, or phases-of the Voluntary Siting Process.
(Published March 1995)
Introduction to the Issues: Siting a Low-Level Radioactive Waste
Disposal Facility in New Jersey. This is a Question-&-Answer
booklet that asks and answers basic questions about low-level
radioactive waste. It is a general introduction, or primer,
to the issues. (August 1995)
New Jerseys Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility:
Could It Be Right for Your Community? This 18-minute long
video introduces the viewer to why waste is generated, how it
is minimized, why New Jersey needs a facility to ensure its
safe disposal, and what incentives and benefits the community
that volunteers to host the facility will receive. (January
Site Evaluation Methodology for Siting a Low-Level Radioactive
Waste Disposal Facility in New Jersey. This technical report
describes how potential sites will be characterized, or evaluated,
to determine their viability and licensability as New Jerseys
disposal facility. (June 1995)
Site Investigation Program for Evaluating a Potential Site for
New Jerseys Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility.
This publication lays out the objectives and time frame for
the initial phase of evaluating a potential site. (March 1996;
revised September 1997)
Site Characterization Program for Evaluating a Potential Site
for New Jerseys Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility.
This publication lays out the objectives, the kinds of information
to be gathered, and time frame for the full-scale site characterization,
or evaluation, of a potential site. (September 1996)
Siting Criteria Report. This document, prepared by the
Boards environmental consultant, describes and explains
the rationale behind the siting criteria adopted by the Board.
Area Screening and Candidate Site Identification Methodology
Report. This document, also prepared by the Boards
environmental consultant, lists and describes how a site would
be selected using statewide screening data. (September 1990)
Report: New Jersey Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Plan.
This report, prepared by the Boards environmental consultant,
compiles demographics of the low-level waste generated in New
Jersey; discusses the characteristics and management of this
waste; projects waste volume; explains how the waste is transported;
discusses the feasibility of disposal methods and the commercial
viability of constructing a disposal facility. (May 1990)
Jersey Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Plan: 1996 Update.
This document describes the characteristics and management of
the low-level radioactive waste generated in New Jersey; offers
projections for waste that is likely to be generated; and discusses
transportation, disposal methods, and commercial viability of
the disposal facility. (April 1996; updates the first Disposal
Plan published in 1990)
Jersey Doctors, Scientists & Educators Agree: "A disposal
facility for low-level radioactive waste would be a safe neighbor."
is a statement signed by doctors, scientists, and educators
that lists their names and affiliations. (updated periodically
to include additional signers)
Your Town Has Contaminated Land. . . . This brochure discusses
under what conditions the Siting Board will consider siting
the disposal facility on a contaminated property. (May 1996)
Live in a Radioactive World. This brochure illustrates
the many uses of radioactive materials today. (October 1996)
Radioactive Materials in New Jersey: Some Facts. This brochure
offers some facts about the transportation of radioactive materials
across the roadways of New Jersey. (November 1996)
Have We Learned About Disposing of Low-Level Radioactive Waste?
This brochure discusses the lessons learned from the failures
of the early commercial disposal facilities. (November 1997)
a Disposal Facility for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Affect Daily
Life In My Community? This brochure explains how a disposal
facility would, and wouldn’t, alter daily routines in its host
community. (November 1997)
Value Guarantee. This pamphlet outlines the Siting Boards
commitment to guarantee the value of property when a disposal
facility commences operating in a community. (January 1997)
Is the New Jersey Siting Board? This pamphlet lists the
11 members of the Siting Board and gives a brief curriculum
vitae for each. (March 1997)
News Update provides the dates for upcoming Siting Board
meetings and offers information on newly available Board publications,
reports, conferences, and relevant siting news. (Published every
three months beginning in January 1996)
Reports offer the accomplishments of the Siting Board during
the past fiscal year and agenda for the current year. (Published
every March since 1989)
Board also published three issues of a newsletter called Insight,
as well as a series of InfoBriefs on such topics as
"An Open Process," "Managing Low-Level Radioactive
Waste in New Jersey," and "Planning for New Jerseys
Low-Level Radioactive Waste Needs."
the request of the Board, Thomas A. Kerr of the National Low-Level
Radioactive Waste Management Program, Idaho National Engineering
and Environmental Laboratory, prepared Answers to Some Often
Asked Questions about Low-Level Radioactive Waste, a question-and-answer
publication that provides answers to questions, many of which
are national in scope, encountered by Board staff when speaking
to citizens across the New Jersey. (February 1997)
addition, the Siting Board funded:
The League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund to compile
Managing Low-Level Radioactive Waste in New Jersey: A Challenge
for the Future (April 1995);
the Environmental Sciences Training Center at Rutgers University
to research, compile, write, and edit a series of Fact Sheets
on radiation science and low-level radioactive waste (January
the New Jersey Office of Dispute Settlement to compile and produce
a Sourcebook on Low-Level Radioactive Waste (September
1996; updated May 1997).