The Lacey Township Power Plant Problem - Essay Example

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This paper The Lacey Township Power Plant Problem talks that the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant located in Lacey Township New Jersey is a complex problem whose ultimate solution can itself become another problem. The Oyster Creek reactor was built in 1969…
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The Lacey Township Power Plant Problem
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The Lacey Township Power Plant Problem The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant located in Lacey Township New Jersey is a complex problem whose ultimatesolution can itself become another problem. The Oyster Creek reactor was built in 1969 and is the oldest operating nuclear power source operating in the United States. New Jersey residents rely on nuclear power for approximately 50% of their electrical needs. The Oyster Creek reactors age, location, and its necessity to area residents make it a unique problem with few, if any, viable solutions.
The most visible and publicly feared problem is the threat to public health from radioactive contamination. The Radiation and Public Health Project highlighted this in 2001 when it found substantial increases in radioactive contamination of the local area (Gould and Sternglass). Further study indicated a marked increase in a wide variety of cancers especially in children and elderly people. This compares to a decrease in like cancers in the vicinity of eight similar reactors which have been closed since 1987 (Gould and Sternglass).
Along with an immediate threat to public health are the problems associated with the disposal of the spent nuclear material. Currently the four nuclear power sites in New Jersey are storing over 1600 tons of radioactive waste (Radington and Rusch). With aging facilities, dwindling financial resources, and diverted political priorities there is no clear plan that the public will be adequately safeguarded from future disaster. This material is a constant threat to the area from accidental leakage, mismanagement, or even a terrorist act.
The jeopardy that the reactor poses is not just limited to the local area. Neighboring residents are also at risk. The mayor of Brick Township, New Jersey, has filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requesting the Oyster Creek site be allowed to remain open only if it met the current standards of a new reactor. The mayors concerns are brought about by the dramatic increase in population since the reactors inception. He maintains that evacuation plans with the existing infrastructure would be unrealistic and would likely create mass chaos. He further points to Ocean Countys reliance on the beachfront and tourism as a necessary component of the local economy (Federal Register).
Failure to renew the operating license of Oyster Creek, if politically possible, would itself create its own set of problems for area inhabitants. The residents of Lacey Township depend on the plants operation as a source of tax revenue. In 2002, the Oyster Creek plant was the source of 70% of the townships 18 million-dollar budget (Harper). The loss of this income would have a devastating effect on an already strapped local economy and would impact everything from education to public safety.
The need for electrical power and need for tax dollars run headstrong against the environmental and health risks of continued operation. Viable alternatives, though offered, are often less publicly appealing or are years away from becoming reality. Wind, solar, and other alternative sources of electricity are still in their infancy. Current methods of natural gas, coal, and oil are meeting increasing resistance from concerns about global warming. Yet, continuing the operation at Oyster Creek is becoming a greater risk, and odds are it will eventually be retired out of necessity due to safety concerns.
The Oyster Creek nuclear generating plant is a disaster waiting to happen. Radioactive contamination, whether through leakage or a major accident, will continue to plague local residents. Taking the plant off-line and the subsequent loss of generating power is a difficult step to take when faced with an ever-increasing thirst for electricity. The only solution to the Oyster Creek problem will come from the publics willingness to invest the expense and sacrifice it takes to provide a safe future for its area residents.
Works Cited
Gould, Jay M., and Ernest J. Sternglass. Radioactive Releases From New Jersey Nuclear Power Plants and the Link With Cancer. 2001. 3 Jan. 2006 Ridlington, Elizabeth. and Emily Rusch. The Environmental Case for Wind Power in New Jersey. 2005. 3 Jan. 2006 Federal Register. Volume 70. Number 177 (2005): 54310-54311. 3 Jan. 2006
<> Harper, Derek. "Oyster Creek Plant Soon May be for Sale Again." Press of Atlantic City 12 Sept. 2002. 3 Jan. 2006
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