|PSEG Power's Mercer Generating Plant in Hamilton Twp., NJ|
The dispute is part of a between environmentalists and the DEP to install costly cooling towers at the power plant in Hamilton Township and other locations. These towers help reduce the massive kills that occur when fish are sucked into the units along with the water used to keep them from overheating.
In this instance, environmentalists claim the plant’s operation harms shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon, two federally listed endangered fish species, by withdrawing hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the Delaware River each day to produce steam.
“In my 40 years as a fish-research biologist, I have never seen a case so clear: the water withdrawal from the Delaware River for the cooling system at the Mercer coal-fired power plant likely entrains and kills thousands of young shortnose and Atlantic sturgeons every year,’’ said Dr. Boyd Kynard, a sturgeon biologist who has served on national sturgeon recovery and protocol development teams for nearly three decades.
The DEP does not comment on litigation, but Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the agency, said the Mercer facility has been operating on a reduced schedule compared with other years, lessening its impact due to decreased intake flow.
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