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Salem Nuclear Plant


The US Environmental Protection Agency determined that Salem entrains 14.7 billion fish, eggs and larvae every year and impinges an additional 6.6 billion a year.  This is a direct loss of fish, but also removes the abundance of aquatic life from the food chain and all of the cascading benefits they provide to a host of other species.  

Many of the species PSEG impacts are either endangered (such as Shortnose and Atlantic Sturgeon as well as Kemps Ridley and Green Sea Turtles) or have already experienced population declines in the present or recent past, thus magnifying the adverse impact of the Salem impingement and entrainment takes they suffer.  For example:

  • “The bay anchovy is a species whose numbers have been decreasing at an alarming rate.”[1]  
  • Blueback herring and Alewife have been identified by NOAA as a species of concern and one that has been experiencing declines throughout their range, including in the Delaware River.[2]  
  • The ASMFC has determined: “ The American shad stock in the Delaware River is considered stable but at low levels compared to the historic population.” (emphasis added) [3]  
  • Weakfish populations in our region are in a “depleted state.”[4]
  • The Atlantic Sturgeon of the Delaware River are listed as endangered as part of the NY Bight DPS:  “In the NYB DPS, there are two known spawning populations – the Hudson and Delaware Rivers. While the Hudson is presumably the largest extant reproducing Atlantic sturgeon population, the Delaware is presumably very small and extremely vulnerable to any sources of anthropogenic mortality.”[5]

The Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) 

Despite a requirement in Section 316(b) of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) that facilities like the Salem Nuclear Generating Station (“Salem”) use the best technology available on the design, location, construction and capacity of their cooling water intake structures to minimize their adverse environmental impact (i.e. their kills of fish and aquatic life), and despite the existince of cooling water intake technology that could reduce the fish kills at salem by over 95%, the state of New Jersey continues to issue permits that allow the facility to continue to operate using their deadly, existing, once-through cooling system.  

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has been fighting for over 30 years to stop the unnecessary death toll that is having such serious impacts on the aquatic life of our River.  Learn more about our efforts here.   

PSEG, the owner of Salem, has been looking to expand and to build yet another nuclear power plant called Salem 4 on the banks of the estuary in an area known to experience storm surge.  A new nuclear plant on our River, particiularly in this location, will have unwanted dangerous consequences.  Learn more about our efforts to stop the project here.

DRN is also fighting the proposal to take Salem Nuclear waste across the country to dispose of it in New Mexico near indigenous and other communities fearful of the environmental and safety ramifications.  Follow DRN’s efforts to oppose this dangerous, unwise and immoral effort.

[1] Bay Anchovy Fact Sheet, NJDEP,

[2] River Herring (Alewife & Blueback Herring), Species of Concern, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, 5/19/2009.

[3] Delaware River Sustainable Fishing Plan for American Shad, Prepared by the Delaware River Basin Fish & Wildlife Management Cooperative for The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission  Shad and River Herring Management Board, December 2011.

[4] Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, ADDENDUM IV TO AMENDMENT 4 TO THE WEAKFISH FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLAN, Nov 2009.

[5] Final Rule, Threatened and Endangered Status for Distinct Population Segments of Atlantic, Sturgeon in the Northeast Region, Fed Reg Vol 77 No. 24, Feb. 6, 2012.

Related Topics:

Salem 4 – New Nuclear Plant Being Pursued for Artificial Island

Salem Nuclear Generating Station

316b Cooling Water Intake Regulations Challenged Again for Fish Kills They Allow


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