Monday, August 1, 2011

Dead fish found near McGuire plant

Nearly 300 dead striped bass have been found since Friday in Lake Norman near the McGuire nuclear plant, Duke Energy reported today. The fish kill follows the 7,000 stripers that died on the lake last summer, and is the fourth die-off since 2004.

Power plants are no stranger to dead fish. Cooling water intakes kill millions of small fish a year, and the Environmental Protection Agency is considering new rules to reduce the toll.

Duke and other utilities also have to worry about the cooling water they return, heated, to the rivers or lakes from which they pumped it. Discharge water that's too hot can hurt fish and other aquatic life. McGuire's discharge, which goes into a canal connected to the lake, is limited to 99 degrees this time of year.

Which takes us to the dead stripers on Norman. Hot weather limits oxygen at some depths of southern reservoirs, especially in a middle zone that acts as a barrier to fish trapped on the cooler bottom.

But in order to moderate the temperature of its discharge water, McGuire pumped water from a low intake about 80 feet deep for five days in July, Duke told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today. The plant's cooling water normally goes through intakes closer to the surface.

Duke had also pumped from the lower intake before last summer's fish kill.

Pumping from such depths takes oxygen from the bottom, biologists say, hastening its natural depletion. Some fish trapped there can't survive. Duke told the NRC that staff members monitored fish around the intake by video camera and took temperature and oxygen readings while pumping the low-level water.

Despite that, dead fish were found Friday near Cowan's Ford dam, near McGuire, four days after the pumping stopped on July 25, McGuire spokeswoman Valerie Patterson said. The current count is 290 dead fish, she said.


Anonymous said...

So what happens when there are no more fish left in the lake thanks to the cooling waters being discharged by Duke Energy? 7000 died last year, 300 so far this year, and 4th die off in 7 years? Anyone seeing a pattern here or are we turning a blind eye?

Anonymous said...

Guess what....Lake Norman was built as a facility for cooling of the nuclear plant. So it ANY fish live there it is a positive, but purpose of lake is for cooling. It is easy for people to forget that fact since the lake was built 50 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Before it was Lake Norman it was the Catawba River. There's got to be a balance. We need electricity. But I want my kids to get to enjoy the fish too.