Monday, July 30, 2012

New findings as Indian Point permit hearings resume

Two new findings will be in play tomorrow, as the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) resumes hearings at 9 a.m. in Albany on Entergy's contested water-discharge permit for the twin-unit Indian Point nuclear power plant. The facility is on the Hudson River, 38 miles north of New York City.  

Environmental writer Roger Witherspoon reports that federal regulators have downgraded,
by a factor of 1,000, the 31-year old data assessing the fish killed annually by facility. In addition, the regulators assert the plants' thermal plume causes minimal damage to the Hudson River environment and may fit state requirements for a hot water discharge permit.

The direct impact of the change by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy Nuclear, owners of the plants, over the continuing use of Hudson River water to cool its massive equipment. The state has been insisting that Indian Point construct a closed cycle cooling system--sort of an industrial radiator recycling water--rather than suck in enormous amounts of river water, pass it through a heat exchanger, and dump the heated water back into the river.
 A closed system would use 95 percent to 9 percent less water than the current once-through system, and would end the dumping of hot water  into the river. Entergy is the largest water use of 40 power plants around the state which the DEC is targeting for cooling system changes in an effort to bring them into compliance with the Clean Water Act and end the annual destruction of billions of river fish. If the twin nuclear plants do not obtain a discharge from DEC, it will not be able to operate even if the NRC grants its request to extend its 40-year operating license another 20 years.

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The DEC hearings on Indian Point's water discharge permit have been ongoing. The last was held in January, 2012.

A similar controversy over a state-mandated installation of a water-cooling system at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station
in New Jersey was settled a year ago when state environmental officials reached a deal with Exelon Corp. to shut down the nation's oldest nuclear power plant 10 years earlier than expected. In return, the plant was allowed to continue operating without building costly cooling towers.

Here's Roger's piece: Dropping by the Millions: NRC Downgrades Indian Point Fish Kills 

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