SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY, NJ – Lacey Township Mayor Steven Kennis joins a select group of state officials this month as the newest member of the Oyster Creek Safety Advisor Panel. Governor Phil Murphy appointed Kennis to the panel led by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe.  

Local residents have lobbied for the creation of a Citizens Advisory Panel since news of the Oyster Creek decommissioning activities broke. They point to the panel established in Massachusetts in conjunction with the shut down of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

“It’s great for the mayor to be added to the board,” said Paul Dressler, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Lacey Coalition. “However, the panel should also include at least three to five representatives of the people that this impacts the most.”

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Congressman Andy Kim has highlighted Oyster Creek as one of the key concerns in the third congressional district. He has pushed for community input in the project and sees the addition of Kennis as a step to representing local residents.

“In September, the Panel hopes to be able to host a public meeting in the Lacey area to discuss the Panel’s mission and goals of operation, but those plans remain tentative as our state continues to navigate the Coronavirus crisis,” wrote Kim in a recent news update to his constituency.

According to Dressler, his organization has looked at the decommissioning project from the standpoint of safety, financial, and environmental concerns. They have consulted with experts and would like to know more on the township’s perspective on how things are being handled.

Dressler gave credit to Senator Chris Connors for pushing for more transparency from Holtec, the decommissioning owner. Connors is also the township attorney and his law firm has pressed for Holtec to comply with local building ordinances.

Lacey filed a temporary injunction against Holtec for their failure to obtain approval and permits associated with additional housing for spent nuclear fuel rods. The parties ultimately came to an agreement that includes an appearance before the township planning board.

Holtec’s originally planned meeting was postponed as a result of space limitations imposed as a result of an executive order issued as a result of the pandemic. The Lacey Planning Board has rescheduled the matter for consideration at tonight’s meeting at 6:30 pm. It will be held outside on the pavilion located at Gille Park on Manchester Avenue.

“It’s not just enough to make sure the Oyster Creek decommissioning is done safely,” submitted Congressman Kim.  “We need to make sure communities like Lacey get the help they need when they lose such an important economic driver. I’m proud to have helped introduce the STRANDED Act and lead an effort to secure millions in funding that could help our neighbors in Ocean County. I’ll continue listening and lifting up local voices while fighting for all the resources we can for the people of Ocean County.”

H.R. 5608 is also referred to the STRANDED Act and seeks to provide resources for communities that face issues associated with stranded nuclear waste. The proposed legislation would make affected towns eligible for compensation at the rate of $15 per kilogram of spent nuclear fuel stored.

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