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news releases

March 25, 2011

Contact: Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795


(11/P40) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the creation of a task force that will conduct a thorough assessment of operations and emergency preparedness plans for the State's four nuclear generating facilities. The review will determine whether any early lessons from the ongoing nuclear emergency in Japan could enhance New Jersey's current comprehensive nuclear response protocols.

The Task Force will begin their analysis of New Jersey's nuclear facilities next week as they prepare to get a first-hand briefing on operations at each plant and to discuss current emergency response measures. The Exelon Corp. and PSEG, which own and operate the reactors, have pledged to participate in those reviews. Potential impacts from reactors in neighboring Pennsylvania and New York also will be examined.

A regularly scheduled nuclear emergency preparedness drill will be held in May at Salem Unit One. These drills are held quarterly, on a rotating basis at the State's four nuclear reactors, and include State, federal, county and local representatives.

"We want to ensure all proper safety protocols and preventative measures are in place to protect the residents of New Jersey from ever having to experience a nuclear emergency," said Governor Christie. "There may be lessons to be learned from what is happening in Japan that could make our preparedness even better and make the State's residents more secure. We have an obligation to explore those facts and will make necessary adjustments to our safety plans as appropriate."

The Task Force will explore emergency response protocols, technical reviews of plant operations, the chain of command and control at each nuclear facility, evacuation plans, and emergency communications to the public.

Led by DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, the Task Force includes State Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Director Charles B. McKenna, State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, and State Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon. A written report will be submitted to the Governor once the review is completed.

"We already have an excellent response system in place, one that is continuously updated as we gather new science and facts,'' said Commissioner Martin." We also have excellent cooperation from the owners of nuclear facilities in our State. But you can never be too prepared. If there are lessons for New Jersey from what is happening in Japan, we should draw from that information.''

The NRC requires the State's nuclear plants to meet federal specifications to withstand natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis.

New Jersey has four nuclear reactors: Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, Hope Creek in Lower Alloways Creek Township, and the Salem Units One and Two reactors, also in Lower Alloways Creek Township.

Q. What is the radiological consequence of the event in Japan for New Jersey?

A. At this time, there is no indication that materials from the incidents in Japan have the potential to have any significant radiological effect on New Jersey. The EPA's radiation monitors confirm
no radiation levels of concern have reached the U.S. or New Jersey. For more information visit:

Q. Are there any protective measures that New Jersey should consider?

A. No, not at this time.

Q. Could an earthquake in New Jersey or off the Atlantic coast cause a similar disaster?

A. Geologic formations in New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean are far different from those in the Pacific Rim. An immense earthquake of the type that struck Japan, measuring 9.0 -- the fifth largest earthquake in recorded history -- is very unlikely to occur in New Jersey. The most severe earthquake to strike New Jersey measured 5.5 in the late 1800s. For more information visit:

Q. Could a tsunami strike New Jersey and damage its nuclear facilities?

A. There is virtually no possibility of a tsunami striking New Jersey. For more information visit:

Q. Could New Jersey's nuclear reactors withstand natural disasters?

A. All U.S. nuclear power plants, including those in New Jersey, are built to withstand environmental hazards, including earthquakes and tsunamis. The NRC requires that nuclear structures, systems, and components be designed to take into account the most severe natural
phenomena historically estimated for the site and surrounding area. For more information visit:

Q. Are our nuclear reactors the same as those now in crisis in Japan?

A. The nuclear design in Japan is ''similar'' but not the same as two of those located in New Jersey. Backup generators and fuel supplies at New Jersey's reactors, required in power outages, and are far better protected than at facilities now in jeopardy in Japan. For more information visit:

For up to date information on the Japan situation from the NRC, visit: or blog at



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Last Updated: March 25, 2011