TRENTON - A spokeswoman for Gov.-elect Chris Christie said the incoming governor was disappointed by the timing of Thursday's announcement that the Oyster Creek Generating Station in Lacey Township would be required to install cooling towers, but did not say that he opposed the order.

"The governor-elect is disappointed that Gov. (Jon S.) Corzine decided to wait for the last minute when he had four years to consider the draft permit," Maria Comella said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced that the plant in Ocean County would have to install the towers, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, as a condition of a draft water-discharge permit.

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Environmentalists and fishermen have long sought towers, saying the system that cools the plant with water drawn from the Barnegat Bay kills marine life and contributes to thermal pollution. But owner Exelon Corp. said it would close the plant rather than build costly towers.

Christie received the endorsement of the New Jersey Environmental Federation based in part on his interest in improving the cooling systems of the state's nuclear power plants.

DEP officials said a final permit could be issued in a year following February and March hearings.

Comella said Christie wanted ongoing discussions that included the state, Exelon, neighbors and other interested parties. Christie did not have a particular solution in mind, Comella said: "He'd like to see all issues put on the table."

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