PSE&G's Salem Nuclear Generating Station in a 2005 file photo. Michael Ein

PSEG Nuclear on Tuesday filed the first papers to build New Jersey's fifth nuclear power plant.

The early site plan permit does not commit PSEG to build a plant, but identifies the proposed site on Artificial Island in Lower Alloways Creek Township.

The site would accommodate a variety of plant designs, the company said in a statement.

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PSEG has three nuclear reactors on Artificial Island: Salem 1, Salem 2 and Hope Creek. A fourth plant, Oyster Creek Generating Station, in Lacey Township, Ocean County, is operated by Exelon Corp.

The early site plan is not a good barometer for when construction may begin. Once granted, the permit is valid for as long as 40 years.

The company spent more than two years working on the permit application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The company's report is 4,000 pages long. The company had announced its intentions in March.

In the first public meetings on the application this month, the company highlighted the economic effect a new plant would have on Salem County.

Salem County freeholders and business groups such as the Salem County Chamber of Commerce endorsed the idea this month.

PSEG already is the county's largest private employer with more than 1,500 jobs. Construction of a new plant would create 4,000 temporary jobs and an estimated 400 to 700 permanent, full-time jobs.

Environmental groups such as the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club oppose the plant's construction. The Sierra Club said nuclear power is expensive and inefficient and creates radioactive waste that remains toxic for thousands of years.

Staff Writer Michael Miller

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