“Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y., is said to be responsible for killing fish, eggs, larvae and plants.

Officials at the Indian Point nuclear power plant – which has been called responsible for killing more than a billion fish each year – will have to figure out another way to cool its giant heated steam turbines, a state court has ruled.

The plant sucks in and returns more than 2.5 billion gallons of Hudson River water daily – 2 million gallons per minute – in a system that pulls in and kills fish, eggs, larvae and plant life.

The hot water flushed back into the river is fatal to some 1.2 billion fish every year, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The cooling system doesn’t use radioactive water from the reactor core.

Last week, acting state Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly turned down plant owner Entergy‘s bid to overturn a year-old DEC decision that faulted Indian Point’s water intake system for killing the fish.

The judge said Entergy’s appeal was premature, stating: “Petitioner’s claims are not ripe for review by the Court at this time.”

The ruling now gives the DEC the green light to push for a new cooling system that would reduce fish-killing water usage by 95% at the Westchester County plant.

Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said the court’s decision determines how the utility company will “ultimately obtain a water-use permit that makes the most sense environmentally and economically for the area around Indian Point.”

Entergy has balked at the $1.4 billion price tag for the new cooling system. Nappi said the plant already has spent more than $100 million to protect fish by installing special screens to reduce the number of fish pulled inside.

The DEC estimates a new cooling system would cost $740 million, and $145 million a year to run – or 5% to 6% of Entergy’s annual gross revenue.

Entergy makes more than $2 million a day – and more than $700 million a year – from electricity produced at Indian Point.

The court ruling was a victory for the DEC and the environmental group Riverkeeper, which have been waging court battles with Entergy for years over the fish kill. Riverkeeper’s chief prosecutor is Robert Kennedy Jr.

Indian Point, 24 miles outside the city, is applying to renew its operating license and keep running until 2035. If the license is renewed, Riverkeeper and the DEC say, the power plant would be forced to build a cooling system if it wants to stay open.

Hearings on the new draft water-use permit for the plant, which would mandate closed-cycle cooling, are tentatively scheduled for next year.

Nappi said Entergy is weighing an appeal of the court ruling.”

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