Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson applaud DEC’s progress towards Clean Water Act enforcement
(Tarrytown, NY) The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has determined that the Indian Point nuclear power plant’s cooling water intake system causes adverse environmental impacts on Hudson River fish. The DEC will now move forward to require closed cycle cooling at Indian Point, which would reduce water usage and fish kills by 95 percent or more. Hearings on the new draft permit, which would mandate closed cycle cooling, are tentatively scheduled for spring, 2009. The legal decision was authored by Assistant Commissioner of the DEC J. Jared Snyder, and published on August 15, 2008.
In accordance with the Clean Water Act, facilities with cooling water intake structures must utilize the ‘€œbest technology available’€ to minimize adverse environmental impacts. Currently, Indian Point’s cooling water intake structures utilize 2.5 billions gallons per day of Hudson River water to cool its facilities. These antiquated intake structures kill over 1.2 billion fish each year through impinging larger fish against their intake screens, and entraining smaller fish and larvae sucked into the cooling system. For almost 30 years, Riverkeeper, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Scenic Hudson, as environmental intervenors, have been fighting to compel state officials to enforce the Clean Water Act by mandating closed cycle cooling at Indian Point and other Hudson River power plants.
‘€œFor decades, Indian Point has maintained that its cooling systems have no impact on Hudson River fish. At long last, the DEC has put an end to this fiction. Riverkeeper is very pleased that the DEC has taken this aggressive position to enforce the Clean Water Act,’€ said Robert Goldstein, Riverkeeper’s General Counsel.
Warren Reiss, General Counsel for Scenic Hudson, added, ‘€œWe are confident that the DEC is committed to fighting any challenges to this permit, and that the process will finally lead to a permit that will safeguard Hudson River fish.’€
In 1981, Con Edison, the former owner of Indian Point, agreed not to construct its proposed Storm King pump storage facility on a majestic promontory in the Hudson Highlands. In exchange, Con Edison was given a 10-year reprieve on installing closed cycle cooling towers mandated by the Clean Water Act at its Indian Point facility while further studies were conducted on the impacts to fish and technology to reduce them. In 1982, Indian Point was issued a Clean Water Act permit, based on the 1981 settlement. A second permit was issued by the DEC in 1987 and expired in 1992. If applications for renewals of permits are made before the five-year permits expire, permits can be extended while the official renewal process proceeds.
In 2003, the DEC issued a draft permit requiring Indian Point to install closed cycle cooling. Entergy immediately challenged the draft permit, leading to this DEC administrative proceeding. The DEC’s August 13, 2008 decision is a legal milestone which now paves the way for the installation of closed cycle cooling and enforcement of the Clean Water Act.
New York State and Riverkeeper are challenging the relicensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in a separate, but parallel proceeding. If Indian Point is relicensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Entergy would have to comply with the terms of the new final permit and install close cycle cooling.
ABOUT RIVERKEEPER: Riverkeeper is an independent member-supported environmental organization. Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect the ecological integrity of the Hudson River and its tributaries, and to safeguard the drinking water supply of New York City and the lower Hudson Valley. For more information, please visit www.riverkeeper.org
ABOUT SCENIC HUDSON: Scenic Hudson is dedicated to protecting and restoring the Hudson River, its riverfront and the majestic vistas and working landscapes beyond as an irreplaceable natural treasure for America and a vital resource for residents and visitors. For more information, please visit www.scenichudson.org