Frank Cassidy, president and chief operating officer of PSEG Power, stated at a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) public hearing that the agency's proposed renewal of Salem Generating Station's water discharge permit represents a well-reasoned and properly balanced decision that will protect the environment and serve the public interest.
PSEG Power is the parent company of PSEG Nuclear, the operator of Salem Station. His testimony came during opening of public hearings on a draft water discharge permit issued by NJDEP on Dec. 8, 2000.
Cassidy said the NJDEP's decision is based on an extensive body of evidence "and supports the conclusion that Salem Station has not and will not have an adverse impact on the Delaware River, its ecology or its biological communities. We believe the provisions of the draft permit will be protective of the Delaware Estuary and provide permanent improvements to the ecology of the region in accordance with applicable law." Salem Station plays a major role in supplying 26 million residents of New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland with electric energy.
Salem Station has been operating under a water discharge permit issued by NJDEP in 1994. Under the terms and conditions of this permit, PSEG implemented an Estuary Enhancement Program (EEP) that included: restoration, enhancement, and/or preservation of more than 20,000 acres (32 square miles) of degraded wetlands and uplands along the Delaware Estuary, which provide improvements to the estuary that will continue long beyond the life of the station; installation of eight fish ladders in New Jersey and Delaware; upgrades to the station's cooling water intake screens to state-of-the-art standards; implementation of a comprehensive biological monitoring program; and the studies of sound deterrent technologies with the potential to deter fish from entering the water intake area.
PSEG's position on the NJDEP draft permit is supported by statements that were prepared by expert scientists members of the team of expert advisers who have worked with the company in implementing the technological and conservation measures included in the existing permit, as well as providing a continued assessment of its effects.
The terms and conditions of the draft permit, Cassidy said, will continue the innovative public policy direction set by NJDEP when it issued Salem Station's existing water discharge permit in 1994. "I am proud and pleased to state unequivocally," Cassidy said, "that PSEG has honored its commitment to the NJDEP and to the residents of NJ and the region. We have implemented all of the conditions of the 1994 permit; the ecosystem of the Delaware Estuary is healthy; and the measures we've implemented are producing the intended benefits."
The draft permit proposed by NJDEP would continue the policies and direction established in the existing permit and call for additional studies and protective measures that include continuation of existing limits on cooling water flow; additional studies to assess the fish return, fish sampling, and fish deterrent aspects of the station's cooling water structure; enhanced biological monitoring; continued implementation of the wetlands program to complete the successful restoration of the acres required under the 1994 permit; and establishment of an Estuary Enhancement Program Oversight Committee.