News > News > Stop Polluters > Power Plant Cases > Indian Point > Environmental groups file final briefing on Indian Point modifications, shutdown to comply with Clean Water Act

Environmental groups file final briefing on Indian Point modifications, shutdown to comply with Clean Water Act

For Immediate Release: May 31, 2016

Cliff Weathers, Communications Director, Riverkeeper
914-478-4501, ext. 239, [email protected]

Jay Burgess, Director of Communications, Scenic Hudson
845-473-4440, Ext. 222, or [email protected]

Plant can install closed-cycle cooling and close down during peak fish spawning seasons without compromising electric system reliability or air quality.

Ossining, NY — Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and Natural Resources Defense Council filed an initial post-hearing briefing with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Office of Hearings and Mediation Services in support of the DEC’s 2010 denial of water quality certification for Indian Point. This Clean Water Act Section 401 certification is necessary for Indian Point’s continued operation.

The environmental groups intervened in support of DEC’s 2010 certification denial, which Indian Point’s operator, Entergy, appealed. Entergy’s appeal was consolidated with the DEC’s Indian Point State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit proceeding.

DEC’s denial found, in pertinent part, that Indian Point’s daily cooling water withdrawals of approximately 2.5 billion gallons of Hudson River water results in the death of over 1 billion “entrained” aquatic organisms annually, which violates state water quality standards requiring fish propagation and survival, and the Clean Water Act’s mandate to minimize such entrainment by utilizing the “best technology available” (BTA).

In the May 27 briefing, attorneys Mark L. Lucas Esq. and Abigail M. Jones Esq. of Riverkeeper established that Indian Point can install closed-cycle cooling towers in order to comply with the Clean Water Act without compromising electric system reliability and markets or causing any negative air quality impacts, and further established that immediate seasonal fish protection outages would be required as an interim measure for Indian Point to comply with water quality standards until closed cycle cooling is constructed. In the alternative, Indian Point can otherwise be annually shut down during peak spawning fish seasons without any resulting adverse impacts to air quality or electric system reliability.

Through expert witnesses from Synapse Energy Economics, Resource Systems Group (RSG), and Pisces Conservation, the organizations support DEC Staff’s determination that closed-cycle cooling towers at Indian Point are BTA to minimize the killing of billions of aquatic organisms and to comply with the water quality standards of the State. Alternatively, the expert witnesses proved that shutting down the plant during the peak entrainment and impingement times (summer and late-winter) is also a feasible and cost-effective means to comply with the law.

Expert witnesses have also shown that either of these modifications to Indian Point’s operations can be done without resulting in adverse impacts to electric system reliability or to air quality in any community in New York State, and that Indian Point can be required to comply with the law without any significant effects to the wholesale energy or capacity components of consumer electric bills.

“Today’s filing represents a significant step towards the abatement of Indian Point’s catastrophic impacts to Hudson River fish species, and overwhelmingly confirms that we can have electric grid reliability and breathable air in all New York communities including New York City, without Indian Point,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay.

“Indian Point continues to kill over a billion aquatic organisms every year in violation of state and federal law,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “We have demonstrated that the plant can minimize its impact on Hudson River fish without significant impacts on electric system reliability or on wholesale electricity prices, proving that cost-effective and reliable electricity is not at odds with protecting the Hudson River ecosystem.”

In these proceedings the organizations have shown:

  • Indian Point must by any means (including permanent seasonal fish protection outages) minimize its utilization of the Hudson River for cooling water purposes.
  • The imposition of immediate seasonal fish protection outages is required in order to lead to compliance with water quality standards.

    Closed-cycle cooling is the “best technology available” (BTA) for Indian Point. Indian Point needs to utilize the BTA to be in compliance with federal and state laws including the federal Clean Water Act and state water quality standards.

  • Alternatively, permanent seasonal fish protection outages of 118 days during summer and winter months is BTA for Indian Point.
  • Any related and necessary shut down for permanent seasonal fish protection purposes can be done safely.
  • Any related and necessary shut downs of Indian Point (including its permanent closure) will not negatively impact electric system reliability.
  • Any related and necessary shut down of Indian Point (including its permanent closure) will have minimal impact on wholesale energy prices.
  • Any related and necessary shut down of Indian Point (including its permanent closure) will not result in negative air quality impacts to environmental justice communities.
  • Cooling towers, if built, will not result in negative environmental impacts to the communities surrounding the facility.
  • Indian Point has been reaping the benefits of failing to comply with the law for decades, and the organizations have shown that it can — and must — immediately come into compliance in order to keep operating.

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