San Francisco’s Mirant Corp. power plant, under fire from the city attorney and environmental groups, is one of 19 power plants in California that could face tougher regulation under the Obama administration for killing billions of fish.
For now, state water regulators are allowing the Mirant plant in the city’s Dogpatch neighborhood and the other power plants in California, including the huge Diablo Canyon Power Plant, to continue using a cooling system that sucks and grinds fish, flattens them on screens or boils them in hot water.
The coastal power plants withdraw cold water and discharge hot water at a rate of about 16.7 billion gallons per day, according to reports. The Mirant Potrero plant is blamed for killing hundreds of millions of fish larvae, including goby, northern anchovy, Pacific herring, California halibut and rockfishes….
California regulators could require the electric power plants to upgrade to fish-safe systems now under existing laws, environmental lawyers say, but instead are using legal questions over a 2004 U.S. EPA regulation to delay replacing the World War II-era technology, known as once-through cooling systems.
Two state agencies have objected to extending permits to operate the old systems, citing studies showing that 88 billion organisms are killed a year. Several of the state’s power plants are moving ahead with projects to replace old systems – one on Humboldt Bay and others in Southern California. The technology at new power plants uses towers to cool boiling water and does not require cold seawater.
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