Public Service Enterprise Group submitted a thorough and complete application to build New Jersey's fifth nuclear power plant, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Friday.

Now the agency will take as long as three years to pore over the 4,000-page request to build a new power plant on Artificial Island in Lower Alloways Creek Township, Salem County.

PSEG Nuclear owns three other plants there: Salem 1, Salem 2 and Hope Creek. Exelon Corp. owns and operates New Jersey's fourth plant, Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, Ocean County.

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PSEG submitted the application to keep its expansion options open, but is under no obligation to build anything.

Friday's NRC acknowledgement was all but a formality. The application process is so painstaking that it would be unusual to find deficiencies, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said.

"We expect when they submit a document of this scope, of this scale, that they would have done a very thorough review," he said.

Neighbors and other interested parties can request a hearing to address any issues with the company's proposal. The NRC would appoint a three-judge panel to convene the hearing. People have 60 days to ask for a hearing.

"Anyone can ask for a hearing. They have to demonstrate they have standing and have at least one contention admitted. The contention needs to be specific. You can't just be philosophically opposed to a reactor," he said.

Earlier this year, opinion on the proposal was divided during an informal public meeting in Salem County. Some environmentalists opposed the application, while many local residents, business groups and public officials endorsed the idea.

PSEG simultaneously is seeking relicensing for its three plants. The license for Salem 1 expires in 2016. The others expire in 2020 and 2026, the NRC said.

To see the full application, click on the link with this story at

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