Nearly half a year after Japan was overcome by an earthquake and tsunami, which caused a nuclear meltdown, residents of New Jersey continue to show concerns.
The similarities between Oyster Creek Generating Station in Forked River and the Fukushima reactor, which suffered a meltdown earlier this year in Japan, was the focus of an anti-nuclear power meeting sponsored by Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch.
Guest Speaker Michael Mariotte, Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resources Services (NIRS) in Washington, D.C. stressed that Oyster Creek and Fukushima are “clones” of each other in design.
“It has to do with the design of the reactor, the deficiencies of the GE Mark 1 reactor,” he said. “Oyster Creek Power Plant is the oldest GE Mark 1 reactor in the world.”
Oyster Creek came on line in 1969 making it the oldest operating nuclear plant in the country. With a GE Mark 1 reactor, the plant is the same type the power plant as Fukushima, which leaked nuclear waste and energy after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami, Mariotte said.
The type of technology is obsolete and the design itself is not good, Mariotte said.
“Reactors 1 through 3 had a meltdown in the Fukushima Plant,” said Mariotte. “At Unit 1, the earthquake may have caused a meltdown before the tsunami hit.”
Mariotte, who has been the Executive Director of the NIRS since 1986, spoke after the presentation about what he would like to see done with nuclear power. “I wanted to talk about the lessons that we learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster and how they might apply here in New Jersey.”
“The containment venting system does not work,” said Mariotte. “It’s a Band-aid for a broken leg.”
He also addressed emergency response, emergency evacuation and dealing with contaminated food at the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“We saw these things at Fukushima, at Chernobyl; we’re not prepared in this country to deal with that,” said Mariotte. “The problems that we experienced in this country with monitoring radiation coming over from Japan…if there was an accident in this country we would have to do a far, far better job at monitoring the radiation and getting out information to the public.”
It is still unknown how much radiation has been released into the environment due to the disaster at Fukushima, he said.
The best-case scenario would have been for Oyster Creek to have shut down years ago,” Mariotte said.
“I think it would have if the sale price hadn’t been so cheap. Oyster Creek is a badly designed reactor that went through a long period of neglect and wasn’t kept up well. It’s showing its age,” he said.
There are “cleaner, greener” energy alternatives such as solar and wind power, Mariotte said. New Jersey is the second leading state in the country in terms of solar power potential behind California. Wind power can also be utilized with high-energy production and less environmental hazards.
“Mr. Mariotte spoke about how citizens can participate in their own activities to try to mobilize more people,” said President of Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch Edith Gbur, who advocates for nuclear power awareness.
In 1982 a referendum was held in New Jersey, Wisconsin and New York, which called for the stop of nuclear arms escalation, Gbur said. W vote was taken on a non-binding referendum and two-thirds of the voters called for an end to the nuclear arms race, according to Gbur.
Gbur would like to see something like that happen here in regards to shutting down Oyster Creek, she said.
The Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch can be contacted at the Ocean County Mall and can be found on the web under Yahoo! Groups.
If you would like more information about the presentation please visit the NIRC on the web at www.nirs.org