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Source: Long Island Herald

DEC seeks upgrades at I.P. power plant


Posted: January 28, 2010
Originally Published: January 27, 2010

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has determined that National Grid must upgrade the cooling system at the E.F Barrett Power Station in Island Park. Spokeswoman Aphrodite Montalvo explained that the DEC reviews the company's operating permit every five years, and issued the new stipulation as a condition of permit renewal to operate the facility. By switching from its current cooling system to a closed-cycle cooling system, the DEC said the power plant will be able to significantly reduce the impact its operations have on the environment.

Kyle Rabin, executive director of the environmental group Network for New Energy Choices, applauded the decision, and said that it would help save millions of winter flounder — a species integral to the local ecosystem as well as the community's recreational and commercial fishing industry. He explained that the plant's current “once-through” cooling system draws in and discharges large amounts of water, trapping fish and their eggs in the system. By contrast, he said, a closed-cycle cooling system would take in far less water and recirculate it, reducing both the amount of water drawn from the South Shore Estuary, as well as the number of fish trapped and killed in the process. Adrienne Esposito, with Citizens Campaign for the Environment, added that because a closed-cycle cooling system takes in so much less water, it would reduce fish kills by 95 percent, as shown by data compiled by the DEC.

The Barrett plant, which is located in Island Park and draws water from Barnum's channel, is owned by National Grid, but the Long Island Power Authority is responsible for its power distribution system. In its contract with the company, LIPA had an option to purchase the plant from National Grid, but decided earlier this year not to do so, saying it could not afford to buy the plant.

In a statement, Robert Teetz, National Grid's director of environmental management for New York South, said the company is reviewing the DEC's draft permit. “National Grid is committed to continued compliance with all federal and state regulations and is working with the DEC to protect marine organisms in the South Shore Bays while balancing potential economic impacts to LIPA customers,” Teetz said. According to the DEC, upgrading the facility's cooling system will bring the plant under compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.

The DEC is currently holding a public comment period on the draft permit. To view the permit and to comment on it, visit visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/enb/20091223_reg1.html. The DEC is accepting public comments until March 24.