Conn. DEP Officer Recommends Millstone NPDES Renewal
A Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hearing officer recommended that the agency renew the water discharge permit for Millstone Power Station with requirements that the plant operator take steps to better protect aquatic life and conduct an assessment of alternatives to the current water cooling system.
Terms of the proposed permit are based on an agreement reached in September of 2008, between DEP staff, Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc., which operates the two Millstone units in Waterford, and two environmental organizations – Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Inc. (CFE) and Soundkeeper, Inc.
Under the proposed permit, Dominion would be allowed to discharge approximately 2.28 billion gallons of water a day into Long Island Sound. The water is discharged after being taken from Niantic Bay to service and cool the nuclear reactors used to generate electricity at the power units.
As a requirement of the proposed permit, Dominion would be required to:
Conduct a detailed evaluation by late summer of 2012 of all available technologies – including closed-cycle recirculation systems – that can be installed to minimize adverse environmental impacts from Millstone's cooling water intake structures. Based on a review and consideration of the results of the evaluation, all other information required by the proposed permit and any subsequent law or regulation in effect at that time, the DEP will subsequently determine the best technology available that must be installed at Millstone.
Install by Jan. 1, 2011 new technology to reduce the intake of cooling water by about 40 percent during the optimal spawning season for winter flounder – which typically runs from early April until mid-May.
Undertake a detailed feasibility study of the potential benefits of installing fine mesh screens to reduce the mortality rate of winter flounder larvae.
Dominion has been moving to implement these permit terms even before the permit has been issued.
The final permit also requires the power company to conduct a detailed study to determine steps that could be taken to augment the natural reproduction of Niantic River winter flounder and become an active participant in the Nitrogen Work Group established by DEP to study the impact of nitrogen loading on aquatic life and natural resources in the Niantic River.
The hearing officer's proposed decision is now subject to final action by the agency.