BASS BARN banner
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

9,261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Oyster Creek N-plant to pay $1M. fine for 2002 fish kill
By ERIC TUCKER Staff Writer, (609) 978-2012

LACEY TOWNSHIP - The owner and operator of the Oyster Creek Generating Station has agreed to a $1 million settlement with the state, officials announced Thursday, resolving a water-discharge violation that resulted in the deaths of thousands of fish two years ago.

The settlement calls for AmerGen Energy Co. to pay civil and criminal penalties that will go toward natural-resource damage repair and environmental projects in the region. AmerGen owns and operates the nuclear power plant.

About 6,000 fish were killed Sept. 23, 2002, by an unusually warm discharge of water from the power plant. Officials have said the transformer that provides power to the nuclear plant's thermal dilution pumps was turned off while the plant underwent maintenance.

The plant uses water to cool the reactor, a process that heats the water. The pumps cool the water before it is discharged into Oyster Creek, a small body of water adjacent to the plant. The fish were killed in the creek.

The company failed to contact the state Department of Environmental Protection, or DEP, until five hours after the discovery of the fish kill. The law required it to inform the DEP within two hours.

Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office, said the settlement figure is an "adequate amount to send a message to various permittees around the state about the importance of complying with your permit."

"I mean, it's a significant sum for what was a significant event," he said.

The $1 million settlement is evenly split between criminal and civil portions in the case.

The civil settlement, made with the DEP, is divided among four recipients:

AmerGen will contribute $75,000 for the purchase of two modules - to be used by the Barnegat Bay Estuary Program - that will monitor water temperature in the bay.

The modules will be installed in Waretown, Ocean Township, which neighbors the nuclear plant, and Stafford Township, according to a news release issued by the Attorney General's Office.

The company will pay an administrative penalty of $190,000 to the state.

The company will reimburse the state $182,912 for damages to natural resources. The money will pay for restoration of Barnegat Bay-area natural resources and habitat.

The Lighthouse Center in Waretown, an environmental education facility, will get $52,088 for improvements

The criminal portion of the settlement is divided in two parts:

The Lighthouse Center will get an additional $250,000 for improvements.

The state's Clean Water Enforcement Fund, part of the Attorney General's Office, will get $250,000.

"We take full responsibility for what happened, for the event," Ann Mary Carley, a spokeswoman for Exelon Nuclear, AmerGen's parent company, said Thursday. "We think the settlement is fair and we are pleased that such a large portion of the settlement will go to two very worthwhile environmental groups."

Douglas O'Malley, a clean-water advocate for the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, called the settlement a "landmark penalty."

"Oyster Creek is finally being punished for killing thousands of fish, something it's done repeatedly over the last 30 years," O'Malley said.

Aseltine, the spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said the plant's water-pollution discharge permit prohibited maintenance work that shuts down the dilution pumps between the start of June and the end of September.

"We apparently did not fully understand the ramifications of having the system out during this period of time," Carley said.

Aseltine said that at one point after the fish kill, the water temperature was measured at 101 degrees.

"Obviously, 101 degrees is a temperature that is dangerous to marine life as indicated by this incident," he added.

Seventy-five percent of the fish killed either were striped bass, Atlantic menhaden or white perch, Aseltine said. Another 5 percent were spotted and American eel, and the remaining fatalities included 17 other species of fish.

The DEP began investigating the fish kill immediately, he added, and the case was referred in December to an Environmental Crimes Bureau under the umbrella of the Attorney General's Office.
1 - 1 of 1 Posts