Green Delaware Action Alert #86

 Salem--The Atomic Vacuum Cleaner II:
        Cooling water intakes devastate the Delaware

Report on Jan 23rd Public Hearing in Pennsville

        Public hearings Jan 25th, on permit for Salem Nukes

Port Penn, DE.  January 24, 2001.   As a follow-up to Alert #85, here is a report on the Jan. 23 public hearing in Pennsville, NJ, from the Atlantic City Free Press.  Green Delaware’s introductory comments: 

        Testimony of Delaware Fish and Wildlife official Roy Miller compared favorably with the brown-nosing of a tedious slate of politicos and academics obviously beholden to the nuclear utility, PSE&G.  On the other hand, Rich Heffron of the Delaware State Chamber of
Commerce and a representative of a Delaware plumbers and pipefitters union testified in favor of the fish-killer permit.  This can be seen as ironic, because if the utility built cooling towers the construction trades folks would obviously get a lot more work.

        Eleanor Craig of the University of Delaware Department of Economics­this outfit is a perpetual environmental bad actor­testified that work done in her department, but paid for by the utility, showed that the Salem plants have an economic impact on the region of over 280 million dollars per year.  She did not offer any reasons why this meant the plant should not be
required to comply with the Clean Water Act.

        Green Delaware also testified that, while we agreed with many of Mr.Miller’s comments, we hoped that they would not be withdrawn after a large financial settlement from PSE&G.

        Correction: In Alert #85 we confused the Partnership with the Delaware Estuary with the Delaware Estuary Program.  Both of these share a subservience to the nuke utility, but they are different organizations and we regret the error.

        Note that comments can be sent in until Feb 28th.  See Alert 85  for details.

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Delaware official at a public hearing rejects PSE&G's claim - January 24, 2001 - 9:19 AM

A Delaware official at a public hearing rejects PSE&G's claim that its Salem nuclear plants have no net impact on the Delaware River and Bay.

                     By JACK KASKEY
                     Staff Writer, (609) 272-7213

PENNSVILLE TOWNSHIP - Delaware environmental officials at a public hearing on Tuesday questioned New Jersey's proposal to renew Salem Nuclear Generating Station's water-discharge permit, saying there are too many unanswered questions about the facility's impact on fish.

The state Department of Environmental Protection last month proposed renewing a 1994 permit that allows Salem Units 1 and 2 to draw 3 billion gallons of water daily from the Delaware River to condense steam inside the two 1,100-megawatt plants.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the cooling system kills about 3.3 billion fish a year, mostly juveniles and larvae.

To make up for the loss, plant operator Public Service Electric and Gas Co. or PSE&G, was required under the 1994 permit to restore 10,000 acres of coastal wetlands to serve as fish nurseries and to build five fish ladders on rivers to help herring spawn. The proposed renewal is an extension of the 1994 permit, with a handful of additional requirements.

During a hearing Tuesday in the auditorium of Pennsville Memorial High School in Salem County, a parade of academics, business people and company officials and employees said the nuclear plants are doing no harm and are a vital part of the local economy.

But Roy W. Miller, a fisheries manager for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, questioned whether the fish ladders and marsh enhancements make up for the existing cooling system's fishkills. "The burden of proof is PSE&G's to ensure that the protective measures and offsets are sufficient," Miller told Dennis Hart, director of New Jersey DEP's Division of Water Quality.

Miller outlined more than 10 questions and uncertainties about the proposed permit and PSE&G's claim that its plants have no net impact on the Delaware River and Bay. In particular, he said, Delaware questions the accuracy of the company's fishkill estimates and the fish-creation value of its marsh restorations.

He also noted that the power company never was required to compensate for fish killed by the plants from 1978 to 1994.

Those 16 years of fishkills as well as uncertainties in the company's permit application should prompt the DEP to require new offsets, such as more marsh restorations, Miller said.

The DEP in 1990 proposed requiring PSE&G to install cooling towers at the plants to greatly reduce the fishkill, but the proposal was withdrawn in favor of the current permit.

The DEP's Hart began the hearing by telling more than 60 people gathered Tuesday that a cooling tower would be too expensive - about $1 billion by current estimates. The federal Clean Water Act requires the use of "the best technology available," but the technology has to provide a benefit that justifies its cost, Hart said.

Norm Cohen of Linwood, coordinator of Unplug Salem, presented Hart with a thick stack of papers that he dropped on the dais with a thud. He said the papers contain the signatures of 13,000 people opposed to the plant's continued operation without cooling towers. "If you amortize cooling towers over 30 years, don't tell me they're not affordable," Cohen said.

Instead of a cooling tower, the proposed permit would allow the marsh restoration to continue, and would require the use of sound and light to  drive fish away from the plant. It would require better monitoring of the plant's destruction of fish and the effectiveness of the fish ladders and
marsh enhancements at increasing fish populations.

Frank Cassidy, president and chief operating officer of PSE&G Power, the parent of PSE&G Nuclear, said the marsh restorations and fish ladders have increased fish abundance. Upgrades to the plant's intake screens have reduced by half the number of adult fish killed, he said.

"We believe the provisions of the draft permit will be protective of the Delaware Estuary and provide permanent improvements to the ecology of the region in accordance with applicable law," Cassidy said.

Ruth Patrick and Richard Horowitz, both from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, said the company's marsh restorations are doing a good job of increasing fish life in the estuary. William H. Palmer, executive director of Water Resources Association of the Delaware River
Basin, also endorsed the permit renewal.

"Claims of adverse effects to the Delaware Bay have been proved wrong not just by PSE&G, but by world-renowned scientists," Palmer said. 

But Alan Muller of Green Delaware, an environmental-advocacy group, said any of the people speaking in favor of the permit have a financial interest in the plant, either working there or writing academic papers about the marsh restoration.

"The case for allowing the facility to continue operating without cooling towers has not been made," Muller said. "It seems to us that a mistake was made in 1994."  He said he is particularly concerned that the marsh restoration has resulted in Salem County being sprayed with 22,000 pounds of glyphosate, an  herbicide approved by the DEP.


        Public hearings are scheduled for  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 (, DNREC (, and EPA (, 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 (, 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:/, and  The State of New Jersey’s positions can be found at http:/

Let us know what you think. 

Email us at

or contact
Alan J. Muller, Exec. Director
P.O. Box 69
Port Penn, DE 19731
302-834-3466 Voice
302-836-3005 FAX

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This page was last updated on January 28, 2001.