REACTOR EXTENSION POSES THREAT TO HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
August 31, 2009 – The recent proposal to allow the three nuclear reactors at the Salem/Hope Creek plant to operate for 20 more years would constitute a greater health threat to local residents than ever before, says a local citizens advocacy group.
Earlier this month, PSEG Nuclear initiated a request to federal regulators to extend the 40 year licenses at Salem/Hope Creek for an additional 20 years when they expire. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will review the request and make a decision, probably in 2012.
“We officially oppose the extension,” says Norm Cohen, coordinator for the nuclear watchdog group UNPLUG Salem Campaign. “While PSEG has the right to file extensions, they are risking public health and safety in order to make more profits.” Cohen contends that aging reactors with corroding parts are more likely to malfunction and harm humans than newer reactors.
UNPLUG Salem Campaign will be coordinating an alliance of local, state, and national organizations, who will decide, after reading PSEG's renewal application, which renewal issues to focus on. "The cards are stacked in PSEG's favor by the NRC," said Cohen, "but we plan to do our best for the safety of the people and environment of the Delaware Estuary."
The action by PSEG Nuclear continues a national trend by utility companies to obtain government permission to operate nuclear reactors beyond the original 40 year license period. In this decade, the NRC has ruled on license extension applications for 52 of the 104 U.S. reactors – and has approved all 52.
Joseph Mangano, MPH MBA UNPLUG Salem's Associate Director, is concerned about health issues. "The health hazards of nuclear reactors stem from the enormous amount of radioactive chemicals they generate to make electricity. The mix of over 100 radioactive chemicals includes Strontium-90, Iodine-131, and Cesium-137, which are only produced in nuclear reactors and atomic bomb explosions. Each causes cancer, and is especially harmful to fetuses, infants, and children," Mangano said.
Radioactive chemicals produced in reactors are contained in reactor cores and in waste pools (of water). The level of radioactivity at a plant such as Salem/Hope Creek is the equivalent of several hundred Hiroshima bombs. A mechanical failure or act of terrorism releasing these large amounts of radioactivity into the environment would be a disaster, and many thousands of local residents would suffer from radiation poisoning or cancer. Nearly 5 million persons live within 50 miles of Salem/Hope Creek.
In addition to a catastrophic release, reactors routinely release some of its radioactivity into local air and water, and humans ingest it through breathing, eating, and drinking.
Also, Salem units 1 and 2 kill billions of fish and other marine life each year because PSEG has refused to install closed cooling systems, such as cooling towers to comply with the Clean Water Act, section 316 (b).
Salem/Hope Creek is one of only three U.S. nuclear plants with three reactors – all others have one or two. PSEG Nuclear officials are also exploring the possibility of ordering a fourth reactor.
CONTACT: Norm Cohen 609-601-8583; Joseph Mangano 609-399-4343