Regulators require nuclear plants to save fish

Posted by Christine, January 3, 2011

Roger Witherspoon examines what happens the regulatory agencies’ actions to protect fish in the vicinity of nuclear reactor cooling systems, such as these at Indian River in New York:

In an unprecedented move, the environmental agencies of New Jersey and New York have begun forcing scores of their largest water users to either retrofit their plants with modern cooling systems which won’t kill billions of fish annually or cease operating.

Environmental analysts in the two states have found that these facilities kill more than 20 billion juvenile and mature fish annually in New York and another nine billion in New Jersey.  These operations have had a negative impact on a variety of fish, including the endangered Atlantic Sturgeon which returns to the Hudson River to spawn and sea turtles in the Delaware River which were sucked into the cooling systems at the Salem Nuclear Generating Station.

Even more alarming is the finding by the National Marine Fisheries Service that the “once through cooling systems” are vacuuming up trillions of newly hatched fish – those under a half inches in length – and destroying them in their heat exchangers. The NMFS directly challenged the finding by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the damage to the aquatic environment is  “moderate”, and asserted there is  “strong evidence” that the decline in  fish stocks along the entire northeast Atlantic seaboard is due more to the destruction of baby fish than to over fishing of adults.