MANNINGTON TWP. — What if there’s an emergency at a nearby nuclear power plant that requires you to take action but you are never informed?
That was the fear expressed by speakers this week during the state’s annual review of the plan that would be put into action in case of a large-scale accident at one of New Jersey’s four nuclear reactors.
“The deteriorating telecommunications infrastructure throughout in South Jersey will have a disastrous impact in executing this plan,” said Barbara Stratton who lives in Stow Creek Township in Cumberland County within the 10-mile emergency planning zone around PSEG Nuclear’s Artificial Island generating complex.
“Deteriorating telecommunications infrastructure throughout in South Jersey could have a disastrous impact in executing this plan,” Stratton told state officials conducting the hearing. “Understand the need to not ignore this public safety issue.”
The issue of communication in rural areas of South Jersey has long been a problem, officials and residents have said and they have blamed Verizon.
“We disagree that our service is unreliable,” said Verizon Spokesman Ray McConville. He said Verizon’s trouble report rates in South Jersey are “consistently better than BPU standards.”
Stratton also said the emergency response plan should include the sending of texts to warn of any nuclear emergency.
“No doubt this emergency response plan was state of the art and adequate when developed 40 years ago, however telecommunications infrastructures within the 10-mile emergency zone and beyond has not not kept pace with advance in telecommunications technology and how today’s society communicates.”
A suit on behalf of 17 towns in South Jersey has been filed in a bid for better rural phone service in four counties.
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