Great Lakes fish being killed by local power plants

Government documents released to the public expose hundreds of thousands of Great Lakes fish are being killed by plants utilizing lake water to cool off equipment.

Records obtained by the Chicago Tribune show that adult fish are killed when water is pulled into screens of water intake systems powerful enough to fill an Olympic size swimming pool in less than a minute. Smaller fish, larvae, and eggs petite enough to pass through the screens are cooked by intense heat and pressure of coal, gas and nuclear plants.

Once the water has passed through, it is then pumped back into the lake up to 30 degrees hotter, spawning the growth of oxygen-depleting algae that kills fish and fouls beaches.

Documents revealed that on Lake Erie, Bay Shore Power Plant in Oregon, Oh kills 46 million adult fish and more than 2.4 billion eggs, larvae and young fish each year. The Monroe Coal Plant in Michigan kills more than 25 million fish and 499 million eggs and other organisms.

The cooling process known as once-through cooling is banned at newer power plants. Federal law requires newer plants to install less-destructive cooling equipment. A ban on once-through cooling systems has been delayed due to industry lawsuits.

The Obama administration has proposed new rules that would require stricter guidelines on once-through cooling systems. The Environmental Protection Agency expects to finalize those stricter guidelines by July 2012.

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