Senator Fred Madden and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (both D-Gloucester) today expressed disbelief at a federal appeals court ruling yesterday that blocked a state plan to ship radioactive waste from a small Gloucester County community to the Utah desert.
Under a 2009 directive, the state was given authority from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) over the 50,000 tons of radioactive waste located on the site of the former Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. in Newfield Borough. Shieldalloy, which closed the facility in 1998, wanted to cap and monitor the site. State officials demanded the low-level waste be removed, saying the radioactive materials were leaching and contaminating local groundwater.
But a federal appeals court yesterday ruled in Shieldalloy’s favor and lifted the state’s oversight of the situation, saying the NRC’s decision to hand-off authority to the state was “arbitrary and capricious.” With authority returned to the NRC, the company will once again work to leave the waste in place.
“Thanks to this decision, Newfield’s residents will now have a radioactive dump as their next-door neighbor for thousands of years,” said Madden. “It is nonsense that a company’s desire to simply leave a radioactive mess it created in the middle of a small town could trump the right of residents to have a clean community. For all the money Shieldalloy has spent fighting the state in court, and the money it will spend trying to cap and monitor this site, it probably would be cheaper for them to have just worked with us from the start to get this waste out of Gloucester County altogether.”
“The court has put the interests of big business before the needs of our residents. It’s simply mind-boggling that they would turn down a sensible plan to transfer this waste to a remote site in Utah, instead preferring it sit in the backyards of the residents of Newfield. Their decision is as toxic as this site,” said Moriarty.
The lawmakers called on Congressman Frank LoBiondo – whose district includes Newfield – to use his seniority and newfound majority status to push the NRC into forcing Shieldalloy to remove the materials from Newfield. LoBiondo is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and sits on its Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.
“If the courts are going to insist that this matter be handled by the federal government, then our Congressional delegation needs to use its muscle to help common sense prevail. Hopefully, Congressman LoBiondo understands the needs of his constituents better than the courts or any D.C. bureaucracy. The very health and well being of our residents depends on it now,” said Moriarty.
“If ever there was a time for state and federal elected officials to work together for the betterment of their constituents, it’s now,” said Madden. “We can’t let this court decision block our ultimate goal of helping Newfield get rid of this radioactive menace once and for all.”