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Friday, August 12, 2011

Outdated power plants killing fish

From an article by Betsy Bloom in the La Crosse Tribune:

Outdated power plant cooling systems take a major toll on fish and other wildlife in the upper Mississippi River, according to a Sierra Club report released Thursday.

The report refers to the plants’ open-cycle cooling systems as“giant fish blenders” that also spew out heated water harmful to aquatic habitats.

The plants suck in millions of gallons of water each day from the river that is circulated to help cool equipment, then released back into the river, according to the report.

Larger fish can become trapped against screens at the mouths of intake pipes, while smaller fish and other organisms are churned through the system and succumb to the high-temperature water, the report claims.

Mentioned in the region were Dairyland Power Cooperative’s plants at Genoa and Alma, along with the Alliant Energy plant at Lansing, Iowa.

The four coal-fired plants on the Wisconsin side of the river combined draw in more than 890 million gallons of water a day, according to the report.

The Sierra Club faults not only the power companies but also the Environmental Protection Agency for not requiring the plants to upgrade to a closed-cycle cooling system it contends uses 95 percent less water.

Dairyland Power spokeswoman Katie Thomson disagreed with the report’s conclusions, saying the plants have a “a very minimal impact on the Mississippi River.”

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