A number of environmental groups have put together a petition to close down New Jersey’s Salem nuclear plant. Norm Cohen of the Stop the Salem Nuke Fish Slaughter Campaign appears to be the mastermind here and he’s pretty convinced that fish are being killed by the plant. How many fish? A whole lot:
Salem kills over 3 billion Delaware River fish a year, with changed technology they could reduce their fish kills by as much as, or even more than, 95%.
By which he means cooling towers. Not being able to erect mandated cooling towers factored into a decision to shutter Oyster Creek early and Cohen rather disingenuously hides behind cooling towers to shut Salem. Why do I think that?
With the Oyster Creek decision to shut down in 2019 now a done deal, officially sanctioned by the NRC, it is time to focus on Salem Units 1 and 2, and their continued slaughter of billions of fish and other aquatic life because of PSEG's refusal to invest in a closed cooling system (cooling towers) for their two aging nuclear plants.
Now, let’s set aside for a moment the notion of one power plant killing 3 billion of anything in a 365 day period – that about 8.2 million fish a day. Just the practical considerations – not to mention the smell – would be overwhelming. But surely the plant must be doing some notable damage to the aquatic population. That must be true, right?
“Available data on the composition of the finfish community in the vicinity of Salem from 1970 through 2004 were analyzed using widely-accepted techniques for measuring species richness . . . and species density . . . This analysis showed that finfish species richness in the vicinity of Salem has not changed since the startup of Salem, and that finfish species density has increased.
Finfish means actual fish. We also often call things like jellyfish and cuttlefish fish, but they are not. There’s more:
During trawl surveys conducted from 1999 through 2004, 27 additional finfish species were collected that had not previously been collected during PSEG’s field surveys.
I wouldn’t credit the plant for that, but it’s not chasing them away or killing them en masse, either, is it?
This study was done by PSEG for the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System as part of the plant’s renewal process. It would be wrong to say that fish are not killed through the process of drawing water into Salem – whether it has cooling towers or not – but a lot of effort goes into mitigating that harm and clearly the study shows that Salem has done a terrific job and the population abundance has not been impacted
Those who to close a plant should find some legitimate grounds on which to do it first.
The New York Times has an article called U.S. Pushes, But Reactors Lagging. Matthew Wald does a fairly judicious job reporting the story, though there are not so many threads to really make a compelling case. But – okay.
The one line that stuck out was this one:
But some obstacles are specific to the nuclear industry, like the ballooning cost estimates for construction of reactors, which are massive in scale.
Reactors are certainly expensive, but costs are going up all over. Consider:
Among the sample of projects built in 2009, for example, the capacity-weighted average installed cost was $2,120/kW. This average increased by $170/kW (9%) from the weighted-average cost of $1,950/kW for projects installed in 2008, and increased by $820/kW (63%) from the average cost of projects installed from 2001 through 2004.
A 63 percent increase in half a decade is pretty impressive. Gas? Coal? Let’s give it away:
Since hitting a low point of roughly $700/kW in the 2000-2002 timeframe, average wind turbine prices have increased by approximately $800/kW (>100%) through 2009.
Greater than a 100 percent increase! No ding on wind intended here nor even on Wald. But really, cost increases are not a problem “specific to the nuclear industry.”
Guess who’s blogging? Yes, The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has taken the plunge. Chairman Gregory Jaczko explains it all:
Staff from throughout the NRC will be posting regularly on the blog, addressing a variety of topics. Just to be clear, the blog is not replacing our usual modes of communicating with and getting feedback from the public. Instead, it is an additional way of communicating with you.
I hope it uses this opportunity to, among other things, shine a light on the world of regulation, which is exceptionally intimidating to many people. It’s a big subject and who better than the NRC staff to explain it?
Not much there yet, but give it time. Early days.