Salem Nuclear Generating Station
The Salem Nuclear Generating Station is the Largest Predator in the Delaware Estuary
The Salem Nuclear Generating Station, located on Artificial Island in Salem County, NJ kills over 14 billion Delaware River fish a year at various life stages through impingement and entrainment 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
(Source: correspondence from US Fish & Wildlife Service to NJDEP, June 30, 2000 relying on PSE&G permit application data)
By retrofitting the Salem plant with a closed cycle cooling system those fish kills could be reduced by over 95%.
In the past, rather than require this existing, used and proven technology, the State of NJ has primarily allowed PSE&G, the owner and operator of Salem, to “mitigate” its fish kills by changing the ratios of vegetation in wetlands. The problem is, this program does nothing to reduce the fish kills and according to PSE&G’s own data is not improving fish habitat or fish abundance in the Delaware River. (A summary of an expert review of PSE&G's mitigation project commissioned by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network can be found here, the full report can be found here.) Court rulings, of which the Delaware Riverkeeper Network has been a part, have made clear that mitigation is not an appropriate path for fulfilling the requirements of the Clean Water Act to minimize these fish kills.
Salem’s permit expired in July, 2006. February 2006 PSE&G submitted a permit renewal application. As a result the facility has been allowed to continue to operate under its expired permit.
In October 2013, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed on behalf of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, New Jersey Sierra Club and the New Jersey Environmental Federation initiating a legal action requesting an order demanding that the NJDEP take action on PSE&G’s permit renewal application for the Salem Nuclear Generating Station located in Lower Alloways Creek Township, New Jersey.
On November 13, 2014, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, New Jersey Sierra Club and Clean Water Action settled their legal action against the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and in-so-doing have secured a commitment from NJDEP to issue a draft discharge permit to PSE&G’s Salem Nuclear Generating Station by June 30, 2015. Issuance of the draft permit will cause NJDEP to take a position on whether the facility’s cooling water intake structures, which kill more than three (3) billion fish per year, must be updated to significantly reduce these fish kills and the facility’s water usage. Once the draft permit is issued the public will have a chance to submit comments and thereafter challenge any final NJDEP decision if it believes NJDEP has not required the proper level of environmental protection at the facility.
June 30, 2015, complying with the settlement agreement, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued a draft permit. The permit largely allows PSE&G to operate Salem business as usual – that means drawing in over 3 billion gallons of water a day to use in their cooling operations, killing over 3 billion (with a ‘B’) fish a year, discharging super heated water into sensitive estuarine waters, along with other pollutants.
While the State took 9 years to craft and issue this draft, they only wants to give the public 60 days and 1 hearing in which to review and comment. And both the comment period and the hearing occur during the height of vacation season (July and August with the hearing on August 5).
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network submitted updated comments and expert reports on the draft permit issued by NJDEP for public comment-- our comments and those expert reports can be found in the list of documents below.
Fact sheets discussing previous battles with salem can be found at: http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/river-wiki