Every year, industry draws in more than 100 trillion gallons of water to cool its factories and power plants in the United States. Taking in cool water from lakes, rivers and the oceans kills trillions of fish, shellfish, and plankton. The practice destroys water ecosystems and contributes to the collapse of some fisheries.
Earlier this month, Waterkeeper Alliance filed a comment on behalf of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and other Waterkeeper organizations with the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation. We expressed concerns about draft permits for the James Fitzpatrick nuclear power plant near Oswego and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Cogeneration facility.
The comment, which is available here, describes how the plants' withdrawal of millions of gallons of water per day from Lake Ontario and the East River kills vast numbers of fish, eggs, and larvae by trapping (or "impinging") them against intake screens or drawing them into the plants' cooling systems ("entraining" them). An estimated total of 239,357 fish were impinged at FitzPatrick during 2004. There is 100 percent mortality of impinged fish. An estimated 18,004,625 fish eggs and larvae were entrained annually from May 2006 thru October 2007.
The comment comes on the heels of a 2007 legal victory. Members of Waterkeeper Alliance and half a dozen other U.S. groups won an appeal against the Environmental Protection Agency. Groups argued that the U.S. government changed the rules so that power plants could avoid costly upgrades. The issue is back in the news this week, with energy companies appealing EPA regulations for retrofitting existing power plant cooling water facilitites.
Listen to Living at the Barricades.
This week on Living At the Barricades, we talk to Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Reed Super. Super is one of the leading American attorneys on cooling water impacts. Long Island Soundkeeper Terry Backer joins the show to heed cooling water's "30-year legacy of mayhem on the Sound."