Lawsuit Presses Coal Plant to Stop Killing Millions of Fish

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Lawsuit Presses Coal Plant to Stop Killing Millions of Fish

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Lawsuit Presses Coal Plant to Stop Killing Millions of Fish

Environmental conservation groups want the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to fine one of the nation’s largest electric utility companies for killing millions of fish each year at the company’s Bay Shore power plant on Lake Erie in the Maumee Bay.

The Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association and the Ohio Environmental Council charge that the department should use its legal authority to fine First Energy Corp. for the massive fish kills just as a game warden would fine a weekend angler or commercial fisherman who exceeded their daily catch limit.

“To catch and then eat the fish, we need a license and there are rules and penalties that trigger when more than six walleye and 30 perch are caught in a day.

EPA studies show that 24,000 walleye and 12,000 of various size walleye and perch, on average, are killed every day.

Yet FirstEnergy pays nothing and does little to nothing to reduce the kills,” said Sandy Bihn, director of the Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association.

The Bay Shore power plant is a prodigious killing machine, environmentalists say. According to a 2008 EPA briefing paper delivered to its director Chris Korleski, Bay Shore “probably impinges and entrains more organisms than all of the other power plants in Ohio combined.”

Ohio EPA asked an independent environmental engineering firm, Tetra Tech, Inc., to examine FirstEnergy’s studies and the technologies available to reduce the Bay Shore intake system’s impact on fish and determine which ones would work best at the plant.

The analysis Tetra Tech estimates that the Bay Shore power plant:
• Kills more than 46 million fish each year when fish are slammed and caught (called impingement) against its cooling water intake system screens.

• Killed more than 14 million juvenile fish and more than two billion fish in their larval form when they passed through the water intake screens and passed through equipment inside the power plant during the 2005-06 sampling period.

The power plant has operated for 54 years. The facility is not known to employ any technologies that are typically considered effective for reducing fish kills.

The power plant is located where the Maumee River meets the Maumee Bay, one of the most ecologically sensitive and biologically productive areas in the Great Lakes region. The Maumee River is Lake Erie’s largest tributary and an important spawning area for walleye.

Under Ohio law, the public owns the fish in Lake Erie and it is unlawful to “take in any manner…any number or quantity of wild animals” without a license. The federal Clean Water Act requires electric generating facilities to use the best technology available to minimize environmental impacts.

The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources says it is powerless to stop the millions of walleye and yellow perch being killed each year at the plant.
"Crazy on a ship of fools
Crazy on a ship of fools
Turn this boat around - back to my loving ground..."
-Robert Plant

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