Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Advocate, September 2005


Support NJDEP’s Plan to Stop the Destruction of Marine Life

     After 35 years of exterminating marine life, Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant (OCNPP) in Lacey Township, NJ, is being directed by the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to implement technologies that will eliminate a major source of destruction to the Barnegat Bay ecosystem.  

     Exelon (parent company of AmerGen, which operates the facility) seeks to renew their pollution discharge permit that regulates the cooling water system.  The current permit (once-through cooling system) removes and destroys 1.4 billion gallons of life-rich estuarine waters from the Bay and discharges 1.4 billion gallons of chlorinated, super-heated wastewater.  Fish, eggs, and larvae are destroyed by these systems by being entrained (sucked into system), impinged (pinned on screens), or fatally scalded. 

     On July 19, NJDEP issued a draft permit (visit that calls for OCNPP to install a closed-cycle system, and identified it as the "Preferred Alternative" - Alternative # 1.  A closed-cycle system, also called a “closed-loop system,” draws water into plants for cooling and re-circulates it, expelling the heat through cooling towers.

     In the draft permit, NJDEP states “closed-cycle cooling is the only cooling water intake structure technology available to the facility to reduce

entrainment.”  NJDEP’s decision sends a strong message to OCNPP that the State will no longer allow them to destroy the marine environment.  Instead, Exelon must upgrade the facility to adequately protect, improve, and restore the health of Barnegat Bay.  Installation of closed-cycle cooling will:

  • Save trillions of animals -- including 13 million fish and shellfish PER YEAR such as: blue crabs, striped bass, winter flounder, bluefish, grass and sand shrimp, blackfish, bay anchovies, menhaden, spot, and spearing.
  • Eliminate fish kills caused by thermal shock from the discharge. 
  • Stop the dumping of up to 365 tons of toxic chlorine into the bay per year.  Current allowable discharge levels are 20 times the lethal level of estuarine organisms including striped bass, bunker, & mummichogs (killis). 
  • Create hundreds of jobs building the new closed-loop system including  cooling towers.

Potential Roll-Back Option Looms

     Although NJDEP states that a closed-loop system is preferred, if the facility can demonstrate that this alternative is unavailable, the State allows for a fall-back option -- the use of “mitigation” measures.  This option (“#2”) is unacceptable and will allow continued destruction of marine life in the bay.

     Exelon has the financial resources to install a closed-loop system.  According to Exelon, it is “one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with

5 million customers and $15 billion in annual revenues.”  Exelon expects to “generate $3.7 billion between 2004-2006 after funding capital expenditures.”  Exelon has a responsibility to meet NJDEP’srecommendations to protect the environment.  Exelon’s recent brochure states, “We are a staunch protector of South Jersey wildlife and natural resources.”  

More Public Input is Needed

     The timing for public comment is bad news, as it is the last week of the summer season and just before school starts.  This is a critical opportunity to finally stop the marine life-killing machine – the once through cooling water system at OCNPP.   A public hearing will be held at the Lacey Township Municipal Building, 818 Lacey Road, Ocean County, NJ, from 1-4pm and

7-9pm on August 29.  Citizens are urged to attend the public hearing and/or write comments.  Be sure to include the following in comments: request another public hearing, request a 60-day extension to public comment deadline, support Preferred Alternative #1 requiring a closed-cycle cooling system, and oppose Alternative #2.


49 Avenel Blvd.
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Field Office:

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

Candid/Guidestar "Essential nonprofit data, tools, and resources"

Charity Navigator, "Your Guide to Intelligent Giving"