EDUCATING NEW JERSEY ON THE RISKS OF THE OYSTER CREEK NUCLEAR
Joseph J. Mangano, MPH, MBA
Radiation and Public Health Project
On January 1, 2007, RPHP began an educational campaign to educate the
public and officials about health risks posed by the Oyster Creek nuclear
reactor. Oyster Creek, located just south of Toms River NJ, is the oldest
of 104 U.S. reactors. It began operating in 1969, and its 40 year license
expires on April 9, 2009.
Recently, the AmerGen Corporation (which owns and operates
Oyster Creek) applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asking
for a 20 year extension of the reactor’s license. If the application
is granted, Oyster Creek could operate until 2029; if denied, Oyster Creek
would close permanently.
RPHP selected Oyster Creek as a target for an educational
campaign on health risks, even though many reactors are being granted
20 year license extensions. Extensive research by RPHP suggests that even
compared to other reactors, Oyster Creek has had high levels of radioactive
emissions. This, plus the fact that over 4 million people live within
50 miles of the reactor, make the site a logical focus for RPHP.
RPHP Executive Director Joseph Mangano discussed the
campaign with supporters at the annual RPHP luncheon in New York City
on April 17, 2007.
The Oyster Creek campaign is based on a report compiled in spring 2007
by Mangano. A panel of expert advisors, which reviewed and endorsed the
Rosalie Bertell PhD, founder of the International Institute
of Concern for Public Health
Marci Culley PhD, associate professor of psychology, Georgia State University
Samuel Epstein MD, professor emeritus of public health, University of
Sam Galewsky PhD, associate professor of biology, Millikin (IL) University
Donald Louria MD, professor of preventive medicine, New Jersey Medical
Kay Kilburn MD, (recently ret.) professor of medicine, University of Southern
Janette Sherman MD, adjunct professor, Western Michigan University
The report was also reviewed by representatives of New
Jersey citizens groups with an established relationship with RPHP and
an interest in Oyster Creek health issues. Three conference calls were
held between RPHP and these groups (May 10, May 24, and June 6) to discuss
the report and its use. These groups include:
Grandmothers, Mothers, and More for Energy Safety, Toms
Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch, Toms River NJ
New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, Trenton NJ
Ocean County League of Women Voters, Toms River NJ
UNPLUG Salem, Linwood NJ
Press Conference and Report Release
On June 12, 2007, RPHP held a press conference at the state capitol building
in Trenton to formally announce the educational campaign and release a
summary of the report. Speaking at the event were Joseph Mangano of RPHP,
Dr. Donald Louria of the New Jersey Medical School, Dr. Rosalie Bertell
of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, and Edith
Gbur of the Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch. Four newspapers, four radio stations,
and one television station in New Jersey ran stories on the event.
Click here to
read a the Executive Summary of the Report
Click here to read the full report.
Click here to view the three graphics
that accompany the report
The principal findings of the report are:
- Oyster Creek has emitted more airborne radioactivity
than most U.S. reactors
- Oyster Creek has operated 96% of the time in this
decade, vs. just 67% before 1995
- Radioactivity levels are generally highest in water
and sediment near the reactor
- Average Strontium-90 in over 500 New Jersey baby
teeth doubled since the late 1980s
- Ocean County has the highest cancer incidence rate
of any New Jersey county
- The Ocean County death rate is above the U.S. for
cancer, but below for other causes
- Trends in Sr-90 in teeth and child cancer in Monmouth/Ocean
Counties are similar
- If similar changes in cancer rates near the (closed)
Rancho Seco CA reactor occurred, closing Oyster Creek could mean 4810
fewer local cancer deaths over 20 years.
RPHP Newspaper Editorials and Coverage
During 2007, New Jersey newspapers have closely covered the Oyster Creek
license extension issue. Joseph Mangano of RPHP has published numerous
editorials in U.S. newspapers in the past two years, and is now focusing
on New Jersey newspapers.
The following editorials, each discussing potential
health threats posed by Oyster Creek, have been published. The Newark
Star Ledger is the most-circulated daily newspaper in New Jersey
(the 16th most circulated in the U.S.), while the
Asbury Park Press has the second greatest circulation in the state.
here for the editorial in the Newark Star Ledger, August 8, 2007
here for the editorial in the Asbury Park Press, July 18, 2007
for the editorial in the Trenton Times, September 28, 2007
for the editorial in the Parsippany Daily Record, Saturday, October
The RPHP campaign in New Jersey includes testimony at public hearings.
Joseph Mangano of RPHP has appeared before several official bodies to
present information on health and safety concerns posed by Oyster Creek.
These appearances include:
Atomic Safety and Licensing Board: U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Toms River NJ, May 31, 2007. The Board
convened a special panel of three judges after a coalition of citizens
groups legally intervened to halt the license extension effort. At this
meeting, members of the public were given five minutes to discuss concerns
with Oyster Creek.
New Jersey Commission on Radiation Protection: Trenton
NJ, June 20, 2007. The Commission is a panel of professionals that is
part of the state Department of Environmental Protection and advises the
Governor. It invited Mangano to return (his first appearance was in February
2005) to discuss the report and educational campaign.
New Jersey Coalition for Peace
and Justice: Linwood NJ, August 6, 2007. The Coalition is an independent
group with an interest in nuclear issues. At its annual meeting on the
date the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, the Coalition invited
Mangano to discuss health risks of nuclear weapons and reactors, of which
the New Jersey campaign was a part.
Ocean County Chosen Board of Freeholders: Toms River
NJ, September 5, 2007. Mangano asked the Freeholders to support a resolution
by the Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch endorsing the shut down of Oyster Creek.
The Freeholders are the governing body of Ocean County.
Ocean County League of Women Voters panel discussion:
Toms River NJ, February 20, 2008. The League has invited Mangano to discuss
RPHP work in New Jersey at its meeting on January 12, 2008. The following
month, he will join a panel discussion in Toms River on Oyster Creek health
and safety issues sponsored by the League.
Cable Television Programs:
On October 2, Mangano appeared on a live show on Princeton's public access
cable television Channel 30. He discussed RPHP research on the health
risks involved with keeping the Oyster Creek reactor running. Channel
30 re-ran the show on October 4, 6, and 8.
Progress on License Extension Decision
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has the authority to decide on
the license extension for Oyster Creek. On its web site, the NRC lists
the key dates in the license extension process (http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/licensing/renewal/applications.html)
|Application filed with NRC
||July 22, 2005
|Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Issued
|January 19, 2007
|Safety Evaluation Report Issued
||March 30, 2007
| Decision on License Extension (expected)
||January 22, 2008
To date, the NRC reports issued in early 2007 recommend
that the Oyster Creek license be extended for another 20 years. The NRC
plans to make a final decision on license extension in January 2008. However,
there have been two legal actions taken against license extension which
might delay the process and influence the decision.
1. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
requested that the NRC consider potential impact of a terrorist attack
on Oyster Creek in its decision. The NRC rejected this request on February
26, 2007, but on April 26, the state filed an appeal with the 3rd U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals.
2. A coalition of six citizens groups, represented
by the Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic, has asked the NRC for a public
hearing on Oyster Creek, particularly the safety issues posed by the
aging and corroding drywell lining in the reactor. The request was granted,
and on March 30, 2007, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denied
a motion by Exelon Nuclear to block the hearing, which will take place
in Toms River on September 24, 2007.
Opinions of Elected Officials on Oyster Creek
A number of elected officials and bodies have expressed opposition to
extending the Oyster Creek license for another 20 years. A prominent opponent
is New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who has made several public statements,
“The governor thinks a 20 year renewal is not
appropriate for a plant that’s operated for 40 years” Elaine
Makatura, Director of Public Relations for the NJ Department of Environmental
Protection. In David Benson “Corzine Faults Oyster Creek Recommendation,”
Press of Atlantic City, February 10, 2007.
“I don’t think this should be relicensed
for 20 years under any circumstances, just because there’s been
too much concern about breakdowns. I don’t think you can give
assurances about anything. We have to be safe first and intellectually
honest.” In Bill Bowman, “Corzine a Skeptic on Plant, Tax:
Gov Opposes 20-Year Renewal of Oyster Creek’s License.”
Asbury Park Press, August 4, 2006.
In addition to Governor Corzine, governing bodies in
19 New Jersey towns near Oyster Creek have passed resolutions citing serious
concerns about safety at the reactor. Nine of these call for the immediate
shutdown of Oyster Creek. Among the prominent lawmakers who oppose the
license extension are:
| Frank Pallone
| Christopher Smith
|| Brian Rumpf