Friday, July 8, 2016

Much about politics, but little about fish.

Herring larva in drop of water
Matchstick for comparison
River Water, Sea Water and Nuclear Plants

My article Keeping cool under pressure describes the many ways that "water quality issues" are used by states to attack the continued operation of nuclear power plants.

 Vermont Yankee, Oyster Creek, Indian Point, Turkey Point, Diablo Canyon, and Columbia Generating Station have been accused of overheating rivers and/or causing the death of billions of fish.  Well, the death of billions of fish eggs or larva (larva are newly-hatched fish).  These accusations have closed down plants or made them far more expensive to operate.

My article appears in the May 10 edition of Nuclear Engineering International Magazine. The section about  Turkey Point is a separate call-out in that article, due to the unusual canal-based  cooling at Turkey Point. 

In reality, the reason most fish eggs don't grow up to be adult fish is--other fish.  Fish eggs are an important food source for fish, so fish lay thousands of eggs. An American Shad lays about 30,000 eggs per year.  A salmon lays a more modest number, around 3,000.  A fish egg usually does not become an adult fish, and this has nothing to do with power plants.  It's about other fish: the fish that like to eat fish eggs.   

Some links

I am always very pleased to write an article for an important magazine such as Nuclear Engineering International.  However, "read my article" seems a rather thin blog post.  So I finish this post with a couple of links that can supplement my magazine article.

Diablo Canyon: The owners of this power plant recently announced that the plant would close by 2025. This article describes the upgrade-your-cooling-system issues the owners would have faced if they had chosen to stay open.

Indian Point: The plant has ristorph screens and proposes adding wedgewire screens.  Opponents continue to push for expensive cooling towers, but offer no reason to believe that cooling towers will be better for the fish.

Vermont Yankee: Vermont lost a lawsuit that asked the NRC to deny Vermont Yankee's license extension because Vermont Yankee didn't have the proper state-level water permit.  Even some of the plant opponents said that such concerns have to be raised before appropriate commissions, rather than in lawsuits.

Oyster Creek: State of New Jersey closes plant, ostensibly to protect Barnegat Bay.

Columbia Generating Station: This blog post has an excellent graphic that compares the water use of the power plant with the volume of water flowing through its water source, the Columbia River, near the plant.

Turkey Point: There is no evidence that any effluents from the plant  or the plant canals will  harm drinking water, or will affect Biscayne Bay.  Still,  some groups are suing the plant for causing vaguely-stated environmental harm.

I enjoyed putting these supplemental links together, but I do hope you will read the article itself: Keeping Cool Under Pressure. 

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