Green Delaware Action Alert #85
Atomic Vacuum Cleaner:
Public hearings Jan 23, 25, on permit for Salem Nukes
The US Clean Water Act calls for the “best technology available” to reduce harm to water bodies, such as that caused by Salem. At one time the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection–which issues permits to Salem under authority from the Federal EPA–proposed to require cooling towers to be built for Salem I and II. The owners of the plant, Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G), used their political clout to escape the law. (PSE&G is the largest political contributor in the State of New Jersey, and was a “Bronze Sponsor” of the Inauguration of Del. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.) Instead of cooling towers PSE&G began an “Estuary Enhancement Program” of (1) converting salt hay farms back into tidal wetlands by breaching centuries-old dikes, (2) trying to kill off Phragmites, a common but invasive marsh grass, and grow Spartina, another marsh grass, in it’s place, and (3) paying for projects such as dam repairs and tide gates in Delaware. PSE&G claims these measures increase the “productivity” of coastal wetlands in nurturing fish, offsetting the harm done by the open cooling systems more cheaply than cooling towers.
The Unplug Salem coalition of about 90 groups–Green Delaware is one–wants
Salem to either shut down or install cooling towers. Unplug doesn’t
like the Estuary Enhancement Program because (1) there’s little evidence
that it works, (2) about 25000 pounds of dangerous weed killers have been
sprayed on the marshes, with more to come, but the “Phrag” just keeps on
growing, and (3) the money flowing from PSE&G to armies of consultants
The Salem permit is up for renewal and New Jersey again isn’t requiring cooling towers. The “advisory committee” for the permit drafting included the PSE&G-influenced “Partnership for the Delaware Estuary,” which has given PSE&G an award. (Delaware regulators gave this “Partnership with the Polluters” free office space while harassing Green Delaware with demands for our membership list. See GreenDel News #29 for details.) No independent environmental advocates were included. Delaware officials, the EPA, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and many advocacy groups are unsatisfied with the proposed permit.
Delaware, of course, is impacted as much or more than New Jersey by Salem.
In 1994–the last time around--the Delaware Department of Natural Resources
and Environmental Control (DNREC) raised objections to the Salem permit
but then signed a “settlement” under which PSE&G spent about ten million
dollars on projects in Delaware. Some saw this as a sellout, others
as making the best of a bad situation. This time around, DNREC commissioned
a study of fish losses and intends to raise some objections to the draft
permit. It remains to be seen whether Delaware officials will demand
cooling towers, or whether there will be another “settlement.” Will
the Minner administration show more gumption than former did Gov.
Public hearings are scheduled for TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 3pm to 5pm and again at 7pm to 10pm at the Pennsville Memorial High School Auditorium, 111 South Broadway, Pennsville, Salem County, NJ (just across the Del. Mem. Bridge from New Castle DE), and THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 2pm to 5pm and 7pm to 10pm, at Cumberland Community College Auditorium, College Road, Vineland, Cumberland County, NJ. No hearings are scheduled in Delaware.
The record will remain open until February 28. Comments can be sent to New Jersey (firstname.lastname@example.org), DNREC (email@example.com), and EPA (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com) Paper mail to Debra Hammond, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, P.O. Box 029, Trenton, NJ, 08625. Be sure to identify your comments as such and ask for a response.
OTHER ACTION: contact Gov. Minner (firstname.lastname@example.org, 302.739.4101). Ask that Delaware demand cooling towers to protect our River.
People who care about migratory birds, people who care about fishing and
crabbing in the Delaware, people who want to see the Delaware Estuary return
to it’s natural, healthy, productive state, all have a stake in cleaning
up or shutting down the Salem nukes. For more information see http://www.unplugsalem.org/index.htm,
http:/www.delawareriverkeeper.org, and www.greendel.org. The
State of New Jersey’s positions can be found at http:/www.state.nj.us/dep/dwq/hot.htm.
Let us know what you think.
Email us at
Delaware is funded through membership dues, donations, and grants.
page was last updated on January 28, 2001.