TRENTON,  NJ - The Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee on Thursday, January 21 advanced legislation (A-3186) introduced by 9th District Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove which would increase from a 4th degree crime to 3rd degree crime the penalty for trespassing offenses committed in a nuclear generating plant.

9th District Senator Christopher J. Connors will be introducing the Senate companion measure.    Following the Committee’s action, the 9th District Delegation issued a joint statement following the advancement of its legislative initiative:

“Security at our nuclear generating facilities has taken on a greater level of importance since 9/11.  Obviously, this is an issue that hits close to home for us and our constituents, as the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station is located in our Legislative District.

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“Trespassing is a very serious crime and should be treated as such under the law, especially in this age of terrorism.  In the case of trespassing in a nuclear facility, it’s appropriate to strengthen the statutory penalties in view of the fact that domestic terrorist incidents have increased in the United States.

“The penalties provided under current law certainly don’t properly reflect the seriousness of trespassing, as a criminal act, given the potentially hazardous materials kept on site and the detrimental impacts to any disruption to these facilities’ critical operations.  While we certainly recognize that nuclear facilities in the state take the appropriate measures to protect their facilities, our legislation would enhance deterrents for trespassing at these sites and more effectively prosecute those who would threaten public safety.”  

Under current law, trespassing in a nuclear generating plant is a crime of the fourth degree, which is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to 18 months, or both.  A crime of the third degree is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, imprisonment for three to five years, or both. 

Senator Connors was a sponsor of the successful 9th District Delegation-led effort that updated State law in 2003 to authorize nuclear facility security personnel to use hollow nose ammunition and semi-automatic firearms on the premises.