Connecticut Probing Nuclear Plant Water Released Into Long Island Sound

WATERFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Connecticut environmental officials are taking a closer look at the impact of more than 2 billion gallons of heated water discharged each day into Long Island Sound from Connecticut’s nuclear plant.

The water, which is discharged after cooling the nuclear reactors at the Millstone Power Station, creates a warm current that some fishermen say has the beneficial effect of attracting flounder and other species.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is questioning whether oxygen levels in the plume of heated water are enough to support aquatic life and how the plume affects the marine environment near the shore.

Oswald Inglese Jr., director of the water permit and enforcement division at DEEP, told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief the impact on lobsters and other cold water marine life is the concern.

State officials say they asked for the review this summer because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had given approval for the plant to use warmer water from the sound. Water temperatures in the sound have been rising steadily and two years ago, before the limit was raised to 80 degrees by federal authorities, a reactor had to be shut down when the water taken in for cooling exceeded 75 degrees.

“Heated water from the power plant when it operates extends approximately 8,000 feet … from the point in which it enters Long Island Sound,” he said.

Regulators are researching ways to possibly reduce the heat of the water before its discharge from the nuclear power plants.

Cathy Taylor, director of electric environmental services at Millstone’s owner, Dominion Resources Inc. in Richmond, Virginia, said that once DEEP and Millstone agree on the scope of the study, an outside consultant will be hired to do the analysis. She said the study will consider how the discharged water affects shallow areas over the course of a day.

The water discharged from the plan is typically 20 degrees warmer than the water in the sound, according to Millstone spokesman Ken Holt. He said the temperature of the released water has never exceeded the maximum allowed under its state discharge permit.

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