In New Jersey, we continue to hear about expanding solar and wind power — but 50 percent of all of the energy currently used by Garden State residents and businesses comes from nuclear power plants.

Three of the four plants that are operational — the Salem 1 and 2 plants and the Hope Creek plants — are owned by Public Service Enterprise Group, the parent company of PSE&G. The Oyster Creek nuclear generating station in Forked River is owned and operated by Exelon Corporation.

“Nuclear power stations are extremely safe. They are very well regulated and they have a large amount of redundancy built into every one of their safety systems,” said Paul Rosengren, a spokesman for PSEG. “Since Three Mile Island, I think it’s safe to say the U.S. nuclear plants are among the safest in the world.”

Rosengren said you might not realize it but “a nuclear worker, when they leave the plant, the risk of an injury goes up, because those plants are among the safest in the power industry.”

Rosengren said nuclear power in the U.S. right now is being challenged by the low cost of natural gas.

He stressed in addition to being safe, nuclear plants “are very important to New Jersey’s economy.”

But according to Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, nuclear power plants don’t make sense at all.

“It’s a very expensive and complicated way to boil water, and also there are potential safety issues especially because of sea level rise and then what do we do with the nuclear waste,” he said.

Tittel said when you’re talking about nuclear waste storage, “we have no place to put it and we keep generating more and more, and we just pile it up on these islands next to the plants. I mean, you have to have people walking around with assault rifles and other things to protect the facilities.”

He added sea level rise and storm surge are issues because “what happens if we get hit with another major storm?”

He noted during Superstorm Sandy, water levels came within a foot and a half of flooding the Oyster Creek facility.

Tittel said the two Salem nuclear plants release super-heated water, causing multiple problems in the Delaware Bay and killing huge numbers of fish every year.

He also said Oyster Creek is the oldest nuclear plant in the nation and it has “a lot of problems (including) super-heated water (that) has been helping to poison Barnegat Bay.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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