LACEY, NJ – Holtec Decommissioning International filed two separate lawsuits against the Township of Lacey Planning Board last week. The state action only names the planning board, while the verified complaint filed in federal court also names Lacey Township.  Oyster Creek Environmental Protect, LLC is also a plaintiff in the federal matter.

Both lawsuits arise from an application heard by the Lacey Planning Board on August 24th, which included a presentation by a number of experts regarding the expansion of the spent fuel storage area at the former Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant.

Planning board members denied the application – citing concerns about oversight of the process, as well as apprehension would become a long-term repository for nuclear waste.

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Holtec’s complaint filed in United States District Court claims the local planning board’s actions are preempted by federal law, specifically the Atomic Energy Act, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.

According to the initial pleading filed by Richard W. Hunt, Esq. of Parker McCay, state and local government are prohibited from interfering with the federal government’s exclusive authority over the radiological safety of nuclear power plants – including decommissioning.

The federal complaint states that Holtec planned to do a dry run of the spent fuel loading and transfer with the NRC in attendance late this month. However, the township informed the decommissioning agent of their refusal to allow the dry run – based on denial of their minor site plan application.

Robert Shea, Esquire, who also represented Holtec before the Lacey Planning Board, filed the state action in the Ocean County Superior Court, Law Division. The 72-page complaint, which includes attachments, contains a litany of the proceedings, and contends that the Lacey Planning Board violated municipal land use law, as well as state regulations and local ordinances.

“Spent nuclear fuel has been safely stored in dry cask storage at Oyster Creek’s Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) for nearly two decades,” shared Joe Delmar, Senior Director, Government Affairs and Communications for Holtec International.  “This activity is comprehensively regulated under federal law and monitored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). “

According to Delmar, Holtec maintains the decision by the Lacey Township Planning Board was outside its jurisdiction, superseded federal regulations and circumvents NRC authority. By taking this to court, Holtec is seeking to ensure that this activity remains within the purview of the NRC and that it is allowed to move forward.

“Holtec remains committed to completing Oyster Creek’s decommissioning safely and efficiently so that the land occupied by the site may be repurposed for an alternative use, thereby creating local jobs and tax revenue,” Delmar stated.

This is not the first time that Holtec and Lacey have gone to court regarding activities relative to the decommissioning of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant.  The township filed a temporary injunction against Holtec to put a temporary stop on construction performed without permits from the local municipality.

Holtec and Lacey came to an agreement in August that required the company to submit a Site Plan Application to the Lacey Planning Board.

Jerry Dasti, Esquire of the Dasti, Murphy, McGucklin, Ulaky, Koutsouris & Connors, is in the process of answering the complaints brought against the township and planning board. He did not offer any commentary at this time regarding the legal actions.

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