Group claims Greenidge not preventing fish kills


August 29, 2017

DRESDEN — The Greenidge Generating Station on the west shore of Seneca Lake resumed operations last October after a six-year hiatus, converting from coal-powered to natural gas-fired generating turbines to produce electricity.

As part of its operation, the plant has a six-foot diameter intake pipe 550 feet into the lake to draw in up to 136 million gallons of water per day.

The Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes is concerned that the company has not installed equipment on the intake pipe opening to reduce fish mortality from the water intake process, as mandated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a proposed modified Draft Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit.
The CPFL has been investigating whether the Greenidge station is operating under the old discharge permit and without installing the fish protection equipment, a possible violation of the federal Clean Water Act and state environmental conservation law.

In a press release, CPFL President Peter Gamba said the plant’s “failure to install any protections is of concern to us because the plant uses this water for the plant’s once-through cooling system.”
“Adult fish, young fish, fish eggs and other aquatic organisms are being drawn into the plant and chopped up as they pass through the plant,” Gamba said. “CPFL’s concern is that high levels of fish mortality at the Greenidge plant may be negatively impacting fish in Seneca Lake. That is one of the key reasons we join with the Sierra Club and the Coalition to Protect New York in bringing an Article 78 proceeding challenging the DEC’s failure to conduct an adequate environmental review of the plant’s operations.”

CPFL said the DEC has said it will modify the plant’s existing discharge permit to include a requirement to install cylindrical wedge wire mesh screens on the plant’s water cooling intake and install variable speed cooling water pumps to reduce fish mortality under the Clean Water Act.

But the group said the DEC is allowing the plant to operate under the old discharge permit that doesn’t require any equipment to prevent fish mortality.
Greenidge plant manager Dale Irwin takes issue with CPFL.
“We have negotiated with the state to install the best technology available to prevent fish from entering our plant,” Irwin said. “But it is technology that requires testing and verification before it is approved and installed. It’s a wedge wire screen and we plan on doing the testing and getting it installed as soon as possible.”

He said the plant and the DEC have reached agreement on a schedule of compliance and the company will follow that schedule.

“We are required to do this and we will abide by the new permit,” Irwin said. “It’s a long process to test and install this equipment. We’re proud of our record and this seems to be a case of opponents trying to drum up opposition.”

He said the water taken into the plant is used for cooling and then returned to the lake via the Keuka Outlet. He said the wire mesh will be installed at the entrance of the intake pipe and will safely allow fish, eggs and other organisms to bump up against it, not get into the pipe and swim away safely.

“We are committed to the lake and the community. This will cost us a lot of money and we’re proud to spend it,” Irwin said.

DEC officials could not be reached for comment.
Only fools are positive.
Moe Howard