TRENTON, NJ (CBS) – On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called on lawmakers in Washington to renew their efforts to find a place to permanently store radioactive nuclear waste produced by the nation’s power plants.
His comments come as the world’s attention is focused on a stricken nuclear plant in northern Japan.
Despite decades of nuclear power, the United States still does not have a long-term plan for the storage of nuclear waste. Last year, officials in Washington gave up on a plan to truck that waste to Yucca Mountain in Nevada for storage.
Instead, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has now said waste may be stored at individual plants for up to 60 years after those plants close. That’s double the previous deadline of 30 years.
“Maintaining that type of material in a shuttered plant for 60 years could be a danger to the safety and welfare of the people of New Jersey,” Gov. Christie said at an afternoon press conference Wednesday.
This week he authorized the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to join New York, Connecticut and Vermont in suing the federal government over the issue.
The nuclear waste debate is of special importance in New Jersey, home to the Oyster Creek Generating Station in Ocean County, the oldest commercial nuclear plant in the nation. Oyster Creek will be among the first to shut down; its closing is scheduled for the end of 2019.
“Thirty years is more than enough for the federal government to figure out what they need to do with this stuff,” Gov. Christie said. “They keep delaying.”
A spokesperson for Exelon Nuclear, the owner of Oyster Creek, declined an on-camera comment but released this statement: “Exelon supports the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s current position. We are confident used fuel can be safely stored for 60 years.”
Watch this video…
Reported by Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3