Mr. Witherspoon's cooling system piece | Unsorted comments | -- Your State. Your News.

May 30th
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Mr. Witherspoon's cooling system piece

This one-sided piece is rife with exaggerations, inaccuracies and omissions. For example, Mr. Witherspoon fails to mention that in 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court gave EPA the authority to consider cost-benefit analysis, eliminating the need for a one-size-fits-all cooling tower mandate. He also fails to mention a one-size-fits-all mandate would be a very expensive proposition. The Electric Power Research Institute determined that retrofitting 404 fossil plants and 60 reactors with cooling towers would cost at least $64 billion. And who will pick up the tab - ratepayers. His claim that heat from power plants "causes fatal heat shock in billions of passing fish," is false. Power plant discharge water temperatures are continuously monitored and must be within federal and state limits to prevent thermal impact on fish and other aquatic organisms. Operators can face fines and forced shutdowns if they fail to stay within limits. And what about other contributing factors that can impact fish such as nutrient overload, invasive species, chemical pollutants, commercial and recreational fishing, seasonal high water flow, silt buildup, etc. Why were they excluded? Cooling towers actually consume twice as much water as once-through cooling systems, which is a major concern for confined water bodies such as lakes or bays. And cooling towers applied to power plants that use salt water will emit many tons of salt into the local environment that isn't good for plant life (or cars or homes or people) and could violate the federal Clean Air Act and/or state pollution controls. Once-through cooling systems do impact a small percentage of the fish population, but they do not harm the overall population. Why? Because the relatively small percentage of individuals lost are readily replaced by the remaining population. The process is called natural reproduction. An extensive study of Hudson River aquatic life found that after 74 years of combined operation Indian Point 2 and 3 have had no detectable impact on fish populations. A study of the Salem Generating Station in New Jersey found that finfish populations are thriving and have increased in the Delaware River. Lake Anna in Virginia was built to support the operation of the North Anna Power Station and has a healthy fishery in spite of increased fishing pressure and shoreline development. Mandating cooling towers also will reduce overall electricity generation, as companies retire some plants rather than undergo expensive retrofitting. (Oyster Creek for example.) Of course, electricity rates will rise as the supply of electricity declines. (More bad news for the economy and ratepayers.) Carbon dioxide emissions will increase if nuclear plant output is replaced by fossil fuels. Electrical system reliability will decline with reduced and interrupted generation. And jobs, economic activity and tax revenue also will be lost. And Witherspoon’s reporting lacks balance. It would only be fair to note that nuclear energy is the single largest source (69.3 percent) of electricity generated by low carbon emitting sources in the U.S. Last year, nuclear energy prevented the emission of 647 million metric tons of the gas. It also prevented millions of tons of particulates and other pollutants that have a negative impact on the health of people as well as the environment. National polls confirm a majority of Americans favor using nuclear energy and support new reactors being built.


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