Under the federal Clean Water Act, the EPA has the authority to publish regulations which reflect the statute's goals of reinstating and maintaining the integrity of waters. This includes not only preventing pollution, but also ensuring that public facilities don't go unchecked in disturbing the biological integrity of waters.
Last May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put into place new standards which require large power plants to take steps to reduce the destruction of marine life in waters from which they operate. In addition, the rules require that new units at existing facilities which are being built to increase the generating capacity of the facility cut back on the amount of water they draw from rivers for use in cooling water intake. Specifically, the intake flow for these new units is to match the flow level of a closed cycle, recirculation system. Closed-cycle systems are known to be most effective in reducing the destruction of marine life.
Georgia Power, aware of the problem marine life face in the waters surrounding its Plant Hammond facility located on the Coosa River, has proposed constructing a cooling tower as part of its long-range plan to control water pollution. At this point, Georgia Power doesn't plan to construct that tower until 2019, but conservation groups are pushing to having the cooling tower project taken off the backburner and made a priority.
The Coosa River Basin Initiate, the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, and GreenLaw have all been pushing to get the project underway as soon as possible. To move things along, they are apparently arguing that the tower is required under the new standards established in May.
In our next post, we'll continue exploring this topic.
Source: Northwest Georgia News, "Environmental groups want changes at Plant Hammond sooner rather than later," Jeremy Stewart, Jan. 16, 2015.