Watershed Council: Yankee Discharge Is Too Hot For Fish
08/30/12 7:34AM By John Dillon  Download MP3
An environmental group says a recent study of thermal pollution in the Connecticut River shows that Vermont Yankee has at times heated up the water to unacceptable levels.
The Connecticut River Watershed Council wants the nuclear plant to change its operations in order to protect migrating fish.
The council looked at years of water temperature data collected by Entergy Vermont Yankee and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And the council says the Connecticut River is frequently heated to a higher temperature than allowed under Yankee's permit.
David Deen is the council's river steward. He says the permit allows Yankee to use a mathematical equation to calculate the temperature increase caused by its thermal discharge. But Deen says the equation doesn't reflect the reality in the river, where the water is heated to unacceptably high levels.
"You know, fish don't do math, but they know when they're in hot water," Deen says. "And if you take a look at just the actual temperatures in the river as recorded by Entergy and the Fish and Wildlife Service, they exceed the permit limits about 58 percent of the time in terms of the down river monitor and 73 percent of the time in terms of the monitor that's at the fish way."
Yankee's discharge permit has expired, but it's allowed to follow the conditions of the expired permit. Plant spokesman Rob Williams says he hasn't seen the council's report. But he says Yankee operates in compliance with state and federal law.
"We've been monitoring the river since 1967 - that's before the plant went on line. And it's shown over the years that it has minimal impact on the river, and the life that's in the river," he says.
Deen says he tried to give Williams the report on Wednesday but the spokesman would not meet with him.
Entergy has the technology on hand to protect the river - large cooling towers and fans, Deen says. But he says the state needs to require Entergy to use the equipment all the time.
"Our claim is that Entergy has not made the case to allow for that level of temperature increase in the river during the summer months and that the agency should require closed cycle cooling, meaning no hot water discharge to the Connecticut River," he says.
Yankee spokesman Williams says the company does use the cooling equipment more during hot weather. He said he did not know how often that's happened this summer.