Power plants that draw in cooling water from New York’s rivers, lakes and estuaries kill fish, and older plants in particular kill them in enormous numbers.
Whether it’s American shad in the Hudson River, winter flounder in Long Island Sound or lake sturgeon in New York’s freshwaters, aging power plants can kill and injure anything living in the massive volumes of water that they withdraw.
Power plants that date as far back as the 1940s are responsible for the destruction of billions of aquatic organisms in New York every year. A fleet of 25 power plants that rely on outdated “once-through” Gcooling systems can withdraw up to nearly 16 billion gallons of water every day from the state’s rivers, lakes and estuaries. In the process, nearly 17 billion eggs, larvae and young hatched fish can be sucked into the power plants' cooling water intake pipes and killed each year, while another 171 million larger fish and other aquatic species are injured or killed annually when they are trapped by screens intended to keep them out of the cooling systems.
This aquatic destruction has a simple solution: by modernizing existing power plants to recirculate cooling water, rather than continually take in more water, the harm to fish and other waterborne life is dramatically reduced. Closed-cycle cooling G is a proven technology that reduces power plant water intake by 93 to 98 percent, thereby reducing the damage to aquatic life by 93 to 98 percent.
In 2010, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released a final policy to minimize the impact that power plant cooling water intake structures have on aquatic life. The policy establishes closed-cycle cooling as the performance goal for the "best technology available."