NEI to Review EPA Rule on Section 316(b)

Environmentally Sound Rule Would Allow Flexibility, Require Cost-Benefit Analysis

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| Source: Nuclear Energy Institute

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final rule implementing Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act for existing facilities. The purpose of the regulation is to minimize potential adverse environmental impact on aquatic life from power plant cooling water intake structures. Following is a statement from Richard Myers, the Nuclear Energy Institute's vice president for policy development, planning and supplier programs.

"The Nuclear Energy Institute will study the final rule in the coming days to determine how closely it conforms to principles of sound environmental regulation. The Environmental Protection Agency, to its credit, has taken into account many viewpoints and made improvements to this rule based on the scientific data and procedural analysis that has been brought to its attention. We're hopeful those improvements are included in the final rule.

"To be considered acceptable to the nuclear energy industry, which is committed to safe operations and environmental stewardship, the rule must have these attributes:

  • sufficient flexibility to accommodate the diversity of ecosystems at a variety of power plant sites
  • recognition that cost-benefit analysis is essential to prevent consumers from incurring significant increases in electricity cost with little, if any, environmental benefit
  • recognition of the importance of reliable electricity supplies to regional and national standards of living and economic productivity.

"Different water bodies, fish populations, geography and plant engineering require site-specific analysis to determine the most effective measures to protect fish at a particular power plant. A one-size-fits-all requirement imposed nationwide, such as replacing once-through cooling systems with cooling towers, would result in adverse environmental consequences.

"Cooling towers consume twice as much water from the aquatic habitats we want to protect compared to once-through cooling systems. This fact is very important given projections that much of our country will face a water-constrained future. Technology-based solutions at a power plant's cooling water intake structure can be highly effective in protecting fish and can accommodate the ecological diversity of the various sites. As the EPA has pointed out previously, solutions like traveling screens, with a collection and return system, are comparable to cooling towers in protecting aquatic life in water bodies used for cooling power plants.

"These are the considerations that will guide our review of this final rule."

The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry's policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at www.nei.org.

Contact NEI's media relations staff at media@nei.org, 202.739.8000 during business hours or 703.644.8805 after hours and weekends.