Cooling towers possible at Millstone

Waterford - The Millstone Power Station is awaiting the anticipated Nov. 4 release of new federal standards for cooling water structures that could determine whether it would be required to construct cooling towers.

Plant manager Matt Adams, in a presentation to the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee Thursday, said Dominion, the company that owns Millstone, last year submitted a study of various cooling water technologies as part of its application for a new permit to use water from Long Island Sound to cool the nuclear power plant.

The plant uses about 1.3 million gallons of water per minute from the Sound, but reduces the amount of water during spawning season for various fish species and at other environmentally sensitive times, he said. The permit expires in 2015. As part of its permit review, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection asked Dominion to conduct a study of other methods of cooling the plant that would have fewer environmental impacts such as trapping fish and fish larvae in the intake structures. Cooling towers is one method used at some other nuclear power plants.

DEEP is conducting the permit renewal review as part of its role in enforcing federal Clean Water Act regulations on behalf of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA's pending decision on intake structures, which has been delayed several times, will impact what the state ultimately decides, Adams said.

On its website, the EPA said it expects to issue final standards on Nov. 4 for cooling water standards that would require plants to use the "best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impacts."

Adams said the study conducted by Dominion found that if cooling towers are required, three structures would have to be built at the site - one for Unit 2 and two for Unit 3. They would be about 500 feet tall and would cost in excess of $1 billion, company spokesman Ken Holt said.

The study also determined that the method being used at the plant, with periodic reductions in water use and screens that prevent some marine life from getting drawn by the intake structures, meets the "best technology available" standard."

"But they (DEEP) might require us to do more studies," he said.

The presentation on the cooling towers came during Dominion's annual presentation to NEAC, a six-member citizen panel that reviews Millstone plant safety and welfare issues. Other than a four-day unanticipated shutdown of Millstone 3 in August due to an electrical malfunction, the two plants have had one of their best years of power production, Adams said.

"Basically, you've been operating satisfactorily for the past year," concluded Bill Sheehan, chairman of NEAC.

j.benson@theday.com

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