Energy Northwest Defends Water Permit
by Wendy Culverwell
Energy Northwest, which operates the Northwest's sole nuclear power plant, is defending the process that yielded its latest water intake and discharge permit. A coalition of environmental groups sued last week, asking a Washington court to review the process the state's Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council used to issue a permit for Columbia Generating Station.
The 1,170-megawatt nuclear plant has to renew its permit to withdraw water from the Columbia River for cooling purposes every five years. The permit also covers wastewater discharge for the plant.
Spokesman John Dobken said the permit process included a lengthy public comment period that was actually extended. Those interested in the process had ample opportunity to provide input and did, he said.
Energy Northwest has not yet decided how to respond to the suit, filed in Thurston County Superior Court by the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the Northwest Environmental Advocates and Columbia Riverkeeper.
Dobken also disagreed with the suit's allegations that its activities are harmful to water quality and to fish in the area.
Monthly reports show no harm to water quality and a 1985 study found no harm to fish, he said.
The nuclear plant withdraws 24 million gallons of water per day from the Columbia River for a closed-loop system to cool the power plant. Most dissipates into the atmosphere but about 1.9 million gallons per day is released back into the river.
The plant has been in operation since 1984 and generates about 4 percent of the Northwest's electricity. Its power is distributed to the Bonneville Power Administration.
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