Boaters who launch their vessels into the Connecticut River at the Brattleboro Boat launch have one thing on their minds: fish.
On Wednesday, the site was also the backdrop for a press conference held by river stewards from the Connecticut River Watershed Council.
"We are not saying that Entergy is in violation of their permit. But what we are saying is that the formula that the permit is based on, ANR is not collecting a critical piece of data," said David Deen of the Connecticut River Watershed Council.
That data, they say, is the actual temperature of the river.
The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in nearby Vernon uses the river to discharge hot water from its cooling towers. Under a 2006 permit administered by the Agency of Natural Resources, how much hot water is determined by a complex formula. In simplified terms-- the warmer the river, the less hot water the plant can discharge; setting a cap at 85 degrees.
But Deen says a new report by Hydro Analysis out of Boston proves the formula is flawed. The actual river temperature is exceeding the calculated allowable discharge.
"What we have brought into question is using mathematics or using actual temperature. And our line is that fish can't do math, but they know when they are in hot water," Deen said.
Deen says the future health of the river rests in the balance, though he did not offer specific data or studies to back that up.
"We are calling on ANR to use the information in this report is they renew the new permit and we are calling on Entergy to be a good neighbor and reduce or eliminate their thermal discharge to the Connecticut River," Deen said.
"We are in the process of looking at the application for the renewal permit," said John Groveman, a lawyer for the Agency of Natural Resources.
Groveman says there are a number of factors to take into account regarding the permitting process. He says the agency is working with its own scientists to make sure the river is safe for the variety of species that call it home.
"We'll certainly look at all information critically and our job is to make sure the discharge complies with the water quality standards in Vermont and is based on law and sound science," Groveman said.
A spokesperson from Entergy told us Wednesday the plant continues to operate in accordance with the discharge permit, noting that was upheld by the Vermont Environmental Court and the Vermont Supreme Court. The Entergy official went on to say the plant takes its responsibility to protect the river very seriously.
After Wednesday's press conference, more than 575 postcards were delivered to Entergy's corporate office in Brattleboro with the message "Be a Good Neighbor."
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