Friday, July 10, 2009

Judge rules Indian Point's fish-killing cooling process must stop

Officials at the Indian Point nuclear power plant - which has been called responsible for killing more than a billion fish each year - will have to figure out another way to cool its giant heated steam turbines, a state court has ruled. The plant sucks in and returns more than 2.5 billion gallons of Hudson River water daily - 2 million gallons per minute - in a system that pulls in and kills fish, eggs, larvae and plant life. The hot water flushed back into the river is fatal to some 1.2 billion fish every year, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The cooling system doesn't use radioactive water from the reactor core.



A Spitzer protege, later to become a Cuomo protege, J. Jared Snyder, was placed at the NYS DEC specifically to stipulate ( against 30 years of DEC research) that Indian Point "kills fish". Snyder collected no data. He did not even visit the Peekskill area. From his comfortable, air conditioned office in Albany, he picked a number out of a hat, and declared it to be the number of fish killed by Indian Point. At that point, his job was done. The NYS AG office of Andrew Cuomo had wanted a statement on DEC letterhead, declaring fish kills, and Snyder provided it. A temporary substitute supreme court justice, filling in for just this decision, declared the statement reason enough to pronounce 1.2 billion fish to be dead.

Are they dead, in truth? Local residents see no fish corpses, and Riverkeeper 4 years ago declared the Hudson to be healthy, and patted themselves on the back for it, until realizing they were putting themselves out of business by saying so. They then shopped for a researcher who would declare the Hudson to be in trouble, ( extending their mission), and when brought in as an unpaid Spitzer eco advisor, Riverkeeper Al Matthiessen shopped his anti-Indian Point bias to Spitzer and Cuomo, who ran with it.

It is bogus, it is too narrow in focus, and it is more appropo for an advocacy organization ( who can exaggerate a bit), than for a government, which is not supposed to act on propaganda, but Mr. Cuomo has his eyes on greater notoriety, is said to be rather amoral, and Riverkeeper's brief did not apprise him of what they were pointedly ignoring, and what he therefore never learned about.

The nature of fish biogenesis is such that the vast preponderance of spawned fry are given up as a sacrifice to other predator species, to water conditions, to accident, and even to predation by adults of the same species. Only the very smallest percentage of spawned fry are expected to survive. The facts as of right now, in the Hudson estuary, are that both shad and bass are stable, meaning that Indian Point is not reducing larval fry beyond the already bio-determined threshold, where species diminution would occur. In other words, compared to being eaten by other fish, and even its own relatives, the chance of being killed by Indian Point is low enough to be statistically insignificant, swamped by other ambient conditions. In yet other words, had those dead fry escaped Indian Point, it would have been directly into the waiting maw of other fish, as kill.

In a politics-neutral interpretation, this very clearly paints once-through heat exchange as benign. (Indian Point is flanked, by the Wheelabrator, Lovett, LaFarge and Bowline plants, all once-through water cooled units... other power once-thru plants exist all along the Hudson.)

Even in a politically skewed view, painting the heat exchange losses, although insignificant to the species, as significant in some sense to human advocates, it would be impossible to decouple the Lovett, Bowline, LaFarge and Wheelabrator heating contributions from Indian Point's. Therefore, even in an "All Fry Are Sacred" religious space, the advocate would needs choose either to remove all Hudson power plants, one gypsum plant, and Westchester county's only means of bulk waste reduction, or else let them all be, and accept that humanity, and its activities DO affect spawning, and that the new reduced-but-stable fish populations bespeak an organic whole, Man, Fish, and River, adjusting itself to each other's presence.

The Cuomo/Matthiessen antinuclear bias ought not intrude itself into infrastructure realities upholding the lifestyles of 20 million people, especially when that bias is narrow, parochial, agendized, and so poorly researched.

(Actually.... not researched at all.)

True interest in preserving fish species would lead one to look worldwide, for the causes of the worldwide fish decline.

For more on this, see:

22a-rbZD.007 said...

I suggest the people at Indian Point simply harvest all the fish in their section of the river as a licensed fishing business, convert the fishmeal into "green" animal feed for sale to farmers, and thus prove beyond a doubt the intakes at Indian Point are not killing fish, because the licensed fishing business there has removed all the fish beforehand.