LoHud’s Ernie Garcia reports on state hearings over idling Indian Point during fish spawning season to reduce the number of fish and eggs killed by the plant’s cooling system.

“Over the next three weeks, state judges will hear arguments for idling the Indian Point nuclear power plant during the fish spawning season to reduce the number of hatchlings killed by its cooling system.

The plant’s cooling system sucks water from the Hudson River and in the process kills more than a billion eggs and small fish each year. State officials and the environmentalist group Riverkeeper will try to persuade judges at the state Department of Environmental Conservation to order a seasonal shutdown. Hearings began Monday in Albany.

The proposed shutdown would be one alternative to building expensive cooling towers that Entergy — Indian Point’s operator — has opposed because they are allegedly too big to build on the Buchanan property.

Fish mostly die at Indian Point in two ways: larger-sized ones are sometimes trapped on bars blocking debris from the cooling water intakes and smaller fish, larvae and eggs can get sucked into the plant itself. Rotating screens return some fish to the river.

The hearings are similar to those held last year on the same topic and they are part of a decade-plus disagreement over the best way to protect wildlife in the Hudson River. In 2003, the state told Entergy it must stop siphoning billions of gallons of water from the Hudson River each day to cool the two nuclear reactors’ electricity-generating systems.

Fish species have various spawning seasons, and the idling proposals include 42-, 62-, and 92-day shutdowns between May and August. Indian Point spokesman Jerry Nappi said the idling is unnecessary.

“Our position is that Indian Point right now, today, is fully protective of life in the Hudson River and $75 million has been spent over the last 30 years on scientific studies demonstrating that the plant has no harmful impact to adult fish,” said Nappi, adding that without factoring in power plants, some species may lay a million eggs with just one surviving to adulthood.

Entergy has proposed building a fish-screening system that would cost about $200 million. The large, cigar-shaped units would sit on the riverbed and are filled with tiny, vertical slots — allowing water to be drawn in while keeping out more aquatic life.

Estimates in the reduction of fish kills range from 51 to 91 percent, compared to the current system. Christopher Len, Riverkeeper’s Hudson River program director, said Indian Point should switch to better cooling technology.

“We look forward to providing the court with sensible alternatives to the destruction of a shocking percentage of Hudson River fish,” Len said in a statement.”

To view the original article at LoHud, click the link below:

To view the article on last year’s hearings, click the link below:

For background on the hearings from the Department of Environmental Conservation, click the link below: