New Jersey Joins Spent-Fuel Storage Suit

New Jersey has become the fourth state to join a lawsuit targeting long-term waste storage at nuclear plants.

Attorneys general from New York, Vermont and Connecticut announced they would sue the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Feb. 15, two months after the NRC issued a rule that extended allowable on-site spent-fuel storage at disused nuclear plants from 30 years to 60 years.

In a release Tuesday, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said the state joined the suit because of environmental concerns, adding "the federal government has an obligation to develop a permanent plan for nuclear waste storage and cannot avoid an answer by extending the time that radioactive waste is allowed to remain on sites in New Jersey and across the nation.”

Operating nuclear facilities in the state include Oyster Creek, Hope Creek and the Salem Nuclear Generating Station. In an agreement between the DEP and Exelon Corp. reached in December, Oyster Creek will shut down in 2019, before its operating license expires.

The suit is among several before the courts addressing waste storage. Plans to build a permanent waste storage site in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain – originally slated to open in 1998 – were defunded in 2010, leaving nuclear plants nationwide facing indefinite on-site storage for spent fuel and other high-level waste until a permanent repository is built.

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