Wednesday, June 16, 2010

PSE&G Moving Ahead With Plan To Build New Nuclear Plant In Salem Cty, NJ

PSE&G is moving ahead with its plan to build New Jersey's fifth nuclear power plant in Salem County alongside one of the other nuclear power plants. It requires Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval, but it also requires approvals from other agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps owns the site in question, and the utility needs to get approval to purchase the site that is currently used as a dredge disposal site.
To build the plant, it must secure 84 acres of wetlands from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agency currently uses the land as a dredge-disposal site, the company's report states.

The company applied in May for an early site permit, which is designed to resolve safety and environmental questions about the proposed location. The company has not chosen a reactor design and has not decided whether it actually will invest in a new nuclear plant.

The NRC's application review is expected to take three years.

The NRC hosted a public meeting last month over the proposal even before PSEG filed its formal application. Testimony was divided between environmentalists who opposed expanding nuclear power in New Jersey and local residents and politicians who supported the jobs and tax revenue a new plant would generate.

"We wanted to get the issue out there," PSEG spokesman Joe Delmar said. "One of the reasons we picked the location we did was it was next to existing plants. Any new plant would have similar impacts as existing plants. From an emergency planning standpoint, the plants operate under the same guidelines."

According to the 136-page environmental report, PSEG also plans to build new 500-kilovolt transmission lines and a new causeway to the island, filling in 45 acres of wetlands and temporarily affecting 24 acres more.

The company rated the expected effects on the environment based on three categories: small, moderate and large.

The only large effect was deemed to the local tax base, since the plant presumably would contribute more in local tax revenue. The power plant pays for all municipal services in Lower Alloways Creek Township, which as a result does not have a local-purpose property-tax levy.
So, if the utility jumps through all the regulatory hoops, it would be at least three years before a shovel can get in the ground to start construction, and it would be years before the new reactor goes online.

The PSE&G application before the NRC can be found here.

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