B Attorney General Stuart Rabner announced
today that New Jersey has filed a petition
with the federal Third Circuit Court of
Appeals challenging a finding by the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it need
not consider the impact of a terrorist attack
as part of its relicensing review of the
Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey
Township, Ocean County.
issue is a February 26, 2007 decision by
the NRC rejecting New Jersey's contention
that, within the Oyster Creek relicensing
process, an analysis of the potential impact
of a terrorist strike at the plant should
be a required component. The decision affirmed
an earlier one by the NRC's Atomic Safety
& Licensing Board, which held that no
such analysis was required.
for the Division of Law, acting on behalf
of the Department of Environmental Protection,
have argued before the NRC that there should
be an in-depth analysis of the likely environmental
consequences of a terrorist attack at Oyster
Creek. They have contended that, in accordance
with federal law, any relicensing study
of Oyster Creek should include consideration
of the environmental consequences of an
aircraft attack on the plant's reactor ,
the vulnerability to attack of the plant's
spent fuel pool, and the viability of current
measures designed to protect against these
dangers, among other issues.
NRC maintains that New Jersey has raised
purely 'speculative' and 'theoretical' concerns.
Attorney General Rabner said the State disagrees,
and that it intends to underscore inconsistencies
between NRC rhetoric in this case and its
actual oversight of nuclear power plants.
is difficult to reconcile the NRC's actions
with its stated position on the Oyster Creek
matter," said Rabner. "On the
one hand, the NRC has imposed extensive
security requirements on nuclear power plants
since 9/11 to guard against attacks. On
the other hand, it continues to insist that,
from a legal perspective, the likelihood
of such an attack is merely theoretical,
and not worthy of analysis as part of the
noted that the federal Ninth Circuit Court
of Appeals, in a California case decided
last June involving an advocacy group's
lawsuit against the NRC, observed a similar
inconsistency between NRC's legal arguments
and its antiterrorist directives.
that case, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace
argued that an analysis of the potential
impact of a terrorist attack should be required
as part of the licensing review for a proposed
independent fuel storage installation at
the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant run
by Pacific Gas & Electric Company in
San Luis Obispo.
Ninth Circuit decided in favor of Mothers
for Peace. In doing so, it found that, as
a matter of law, the NRC erred in determining
that the National Environmental Policy Act
does not require NRC to consider the potential
impact of terrorist attacks at nuclear facilities.
Subsequently, Pacific Gas & Electric
petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear
the case, but the Court refused.
Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson, emphasizing
that the state has a responsibility to protect
public health and the environment, said,
”Our primary concern is the potential
for harm to human health and the environment.
In fact, the DEP currently maintains an
environmental monitoring system that detects
even the smallest increases in radioactivity
from the nuclear power plants in New Jersey.
If the NRC intends to block states from
considering the environmental consequences
of a terrorist attack, then they are obligated
to assess that danger themselves."