Fred Stine, Citizen Action Coordinator for the
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
I would like to thank the NRC for this opportunity to speak to the license renewal application submitted by PSE&G and Excelon. We understand the purpose of today’s duel public meetings is to discuss the processes around the license renewal and requisite EIS scoping and I will speak directly to that.
But first, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network wants to reaffirm our long-standing position and call to convert the Salem Generating Station to closed cycle cooling as mandated by Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act. The Act states that generating plants such as Salem "shall be required that the location, design, construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact." The application before the NRC does not call for the compliance of the Clean Water Act as it relates to best technology available.
According to a study conducted by a NJDEP hired expert in 1989 as well as experiences at other facilities, installation of closed cycle cooling towers at Salem would reduce their fish kills by 95%. And dry cooling at Salem could reduce their fish kills by 99%.
Speaking now directly to the environmental impact study, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network calls on the NRC and other reviewing agencies to hold the applicant to the highest scientific and regulatory standards as they prepare the EIS. Previous permits issued to PSE&G were based on data which were found to be faulty, misleading, biased and incomplete. In 1999 for instance, when PSE&G's permit came up for renewal, the company submitted over 150 volumes of information, data and arguments to support its case that it should be allowed to continue to kill Delaware River fish unimpeded.
Every year the Salem Nuclear Generating Station kills over 3 billion Delaware River fish including:
Over 59 million Blueback Herring
Over 77 million Weakfish
Over 134 million Atlantic Croaker
Over 412 million White Perch
Over 448 million Striped Bass
Over 2 billion Bay Anchovy
Even NJDEP's own expert agrees that PSE&G's assertions were not credible and were not backed by the data and studies PSE&G had presented. In fact, according to ESSA consultants, hired by NJDEP, PSE&G had greatly underestimated its impacts on Delaware River fish. According to ESSA, PSE&G "underestimated biomass lost from the ecosystem by perhaps greater than 2-fold." (ESSA report p. xi) And "… the actual total biomass of fish lost to the ecosystem … is at least 2.2 times greater than that listed" by PSE&G. (ESSA Report p. 75)
ESSA Technologies' 154 page review of PSE&G's permit application documented ongoing problems with PSE&G's assertions and findings including bias, misleading conclusions, data gaps, inaccuracies, and misrepresentations of their findings and damage. Some examples of ESSA's findings:
With regards to fisheries data and population trends, ESSA said "The conclusions of the analyses generally overextend the data or results." (p. ix)
PSE&G "underestimates biomass lost from the ecosystem by perhaps greater than 2-fold." (p. xi) "…the actual total biomass of fish lost to the ecosystem …is at least 2.2 times greater than that listed in the Application." (p. 75)
"Inconsistency in the use of terminology, poorly defined terms, and a tendency to draw conclusions that are not supported by the information presented detract from the rigor of this section and raises skepticism about the results. In particular, there is a tendency to draw subjective and unsupported conclusions about the importance of Salem's impact on RIS finfish species." (p. 77)
Referring to PSE&G's discussion and presentation of entrainment mortality rates ESSA found PSE&G's "discussion in this section of the Application to be misleading." (p. 13)
The ESSA report contained no less than 51 recommendations for actions which PSE&G needed to take on its 2001 permit application before DEP made its decision, but that did not happen. It is our understanding that while NJDEP pursued some of these (which ones we do not know because it was not referenced in the draft permit documents) many of them were never addressed, and still others were turned into permit requirements to be dealt with over the next 5 years.
In addition to ESSA recommendations, NJDEP received comment from the State of Delaware and USF&W, both of whom conducted independent expert review of the permit application materials and found important problems with sampling, data, analyses and conclusions.
While we are urging you today to hold the applicant to high standards, I conclude be re-stating the fact that because Salem is clearly having an adverse environmental impact on the living resources of the Delaware Estuary and River, regardless of PSE&G's self-serving claims based on faulty scientific studies, the Clean Water Act requires "that the location, design, construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact."