By Kate Kinane
On July 22 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a draft permit that is meant to make sweeping changes to the cooling system at National Grid Power Plant in Port Jefferson Station that the organization says kills too much marine life each year.
Presently, the plant’s out of date cooling system has the ability to withdraw up to 300 million gallons of water each day from Port Jefferson Harbor, and in the process kills more than one billion fish, fish eggs, larvae and other marine life annually.
The Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) and Network for New Energy Choices (NNEC) worked together to release a white paper titled “Power Plants Kill Fish” that details the dire consequences for coastal marine life brought about by National Grid’s Long Island power plants.
“It is well known that power plants pollute the air and contribute to climate change,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of CCE in a statement. “However, less understood is that these same plants – including the Port Jefferson Power Station – play a significant role in killing and injuring billions of local fish and disturbing our marine ecosystems. The good news is that there are straightforward, proven technologies that can reduce and even eliminate the damage that these power plants inflict on our coastal waters.”
Currently, National Grid owns five power plants on Long Island and, according to the white paper, combined they can withdraw almost 2 billion gallons of water each day for condenser cooling. On the north shore, the Port Jefferson, Glenwood and Northport plants have the ability to withdraw over 1.5 billion gallons of water from the Long Island Sound and its embayments daily.
On the south shore, the Far Rockaway and E.F. Barrett plants can take in 378 million gallons daily. Approximately 10.6 billion fish in early stages of development are killed annually by these five plants’ outdated “once-through” cooling systems. According to the document, closed-cycle cooling, the industry standard cooling system for new power plants, would reduce the amount of water taken in by 95 percent and the amount of fish killed by a comparable percentage.
“The New York State DEC should ensure that National Grid takes responsibility and minimizes fish kills by retrofitting their plants with the best technology available for cooling water intake, specifically closed-cycle cooling,” said Kyle Rabin, director of NNEC.
The CCE and the NNEC are reviewing and will comment on the DEC’s recommendations for the Port Jefferson plant but are disappointed that the DEC did not recommend a closed-cycle cooling system.
“The next generations of aquatic life needed to replenish decimated ecosystems are continually destroyed by National Grid’s power plants, depleting fish stocks, which are an important source of food for other marine species,” Rabin added.
National Grid will be required to comply with the DEC’s final permit under the federal Clean Water Act and New York State regulations after it is released following a public comment period ending August 21.