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PSEG's License to Kill at Salem Station Reissued by NJ


For Immediate Release

June 10, 2016


Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 215 369 1188 ext 102 (rings office & cell)

PSEG’s License to Kill

Extended by the State of NJ

            Trenton, NJ:  Today, June 10, 2016, the State of New Jersey issued a final Clean Water Act permit for continuing operation of PSEG’s Salem Nuclear Generating Station.  The permit extends the facility’s use of closed cycle cooling, a controversial technology that has been challenged by environmental organizations from throughout the region as being out-dated and unnecessarily killing billions of fish a year.

            “Today the NJ Department of Environmental Protection extended PSEG’s license to needlessly kill over 14 billion fish at all life stages from the Delaware River.” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and the leader of the regional environmental organization Delaware Riverkeeper Network.  “These fish, larvae and eggs are vital to sustaining a healthy Delaware River; they are vital ecologically and economically.  For over 40 years PSEG has been allowed to slaughter fish without regard for the ramifications to our fish populations and all of the ecosystems, and recreational and commercial businesses that rely upon them.  Today the state of New Jersey and Governor Christie said it was okay for PSEG to keep on with its practice of indiscriminate killing despite technology that could reduce those fish kills by over 95%.  Salem is the largest predator in the Delaware Estuary and Bay, and has been for over 40 years.  The indiscriminate fish kills inflicted by Salem are unparalleled in the region, and well beyond.” 

            van Rossum added, “The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and our environmental partners had to bring a legal action to force New Jersey to issue an up-to-date permit in order to comply with the requirements of the Clean Water Act; it is no surprise that they would now issue a permit that stretches the boundaries of that law. In issuing this permit, NJDEP has done a great disservice to the people of New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and beyond who benefit from and appreciate the fish and shellfish populations of the Delaware River.  This permit allows PSEG to continue to impinge and entrain over 14 billion fish, eggs and larvae a year from a range of species, including those in population decline and some of which are endangered.  Salem is surpassed in its impingement and entrainment impacts of fish by only one other facility* in the nation. NJDEP had an obligation to mandate the use of the best technology available to minimize Salem’s fish kills; instead it decided to punt and allow Salem to continue with its once through operations for another 5 years,” added van Rossum.

Issuance of a permit for Salem had been prompted by legal action initiated October 2013, by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, New Jersey Sierra Club and Clean Water Action.  The legal action had requested a court order instructing that NJDEP take action on PSE&G’s permit renewal application for the Salem Nuclear Generating Station located in Lower Alloways Creek Township, New Jersey.  PSE&G had submitted its renewal application for a New Jersey Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) permit in February 2006, but NJDEP never made a determination on the application either by issuing a draft permit for public notice and comment, or by denying the permit.   The case was resolved by a legal settlement in which NJ agreed to issue a permit draft.  June 30, 2015, complying with the settlement agreement, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued a draft discharge permit to PSE&G’s Salem Nuclear Generating Station.  June 10, 2016 NJDEP issued a final permit which now allows organizations to bring legal action to challenge it.

Findings from an expert report the Delaware Riverkeeper Network submitted to NJDEP during the permit’s public comment period:

  • While PSEG asserts only $8 million in economic value from reducing fish kills using closed cycle cooling, two other analyses show significantly higher benefits – despite the fact that these analyses do not capture the full array of benefits of closed cycle cooling, they still show benefits valued as high as $577 million.  ECONorthwest, p. vii
  • 14.7 billion fish a year are impinged and/or entrained at Salem.   Closed cycle cooling at Salem would reduce this mortality by over 12.8 billion.  ECONorthwest, p. 4
  • 14.7 billion fish impinged & entrained at Salem a year translates into 360 million fish killed in an average year that, but for Salem, would have survived to age 1. ECONorthwest, p. 4
  • Reduced impingement and entrainment that would result from installation of closed cycle cooling at Salem would result in as much as $577 million in economic benefit considering just a 20 year time frame.  ECONorthwest, p. 11
  •  “The total installed cost of [closed cycle cooling at Salem] ($852 million) represents about 31 percent of the companies [PSEG & Exelon, Salem’s owners] combined annual capital expenditure, and the annual loan payment just 2 percent.”  ECONorthwest, p. 24
  • Installing closed cycle cooling at Salem “would increase electricity rates by $0.0036 per kWh”.  ECONorthwest, p. 25

Copies of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network comment and expert reports can be found at:


*Big Bend Power Station, Tampa Bay

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