Thursday, February 02, 2006
EPA Upholds Limits on Brayton Point
Yesterday, the Environmental Appeals Board of EPA in Washington issued a decision that fundamentally upholds strict limits on the its use of Bay water for cooling. The decision remanded certain technical issues to EPA region I for reconsideration, but these should not affect the bottom line: A 95% reduction in heat and flow from the plant. See the story by Tim Barrman in today's Providence Journal here.
While not a complete victory, this is a strong step toward cleaning up and protecting Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River. Brayton Point uses nearly a billion gallons of Bay water every day to cool its generators. It then discharges that water at temperature of up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. A major expansion of the plant in the mid-1980's has been implicated in the 87% decline of fish populations in Mount Hope Bay. It entrains and destroys billions of larval fish and eggs every year in its cooling system, and warms up the water, degrading habitat for coldwater native fish like winter flounder and tautog. See EPA's website for lots of good information on this topic here.
The important thing now is to put pressure on EPA and Dominion, Brayton Point's owners, to promptly resolve the remaining issues by agreement. Further appeals will be risky for all sides and will ultimately cost more money and cause more damage to the Bay. Save The Bay has been working on this issue since the mid-1990's and it remains the single worst point source of air and water pollution in New England. This new permit represents the best hope of restoring the ecological health and balance to Mount Hope Bay. Save The Bay, along with Conservation Law Foundation, many state and federal agencies, and the people from Brayton Point have worked hard on this for too long to allow it to languish in appeals while damage to the Bay continues.
It's time to finish the job and get Brayton into compliance with the Clean Water Act. We should not be the national posterchild for dirty coal technology. These new limits are way overdue. -JT