Take Action to Stop Power Plants from Shredding Fish

from Wildlife Promise


I’m a student in upstate New York, and feel grateful to get to look out on Cayuga Lake every day. It has always been a vibrant ecosystem, and the community in the village of Aurora that surrounds this national treasure would not be the same without it. Every year, yellow perch and bass are caught by the tourists during the summer, and bands of Canadian geese grace us with their presence on their journey to warmer climates, while we watch on in envy.

My life, as well as everyone else’s in Aurora, is greatly enhanced by how these species contribute to this wonderful and beautiful lake. Unfortunately, as in every great story, there is always a bad guy. In this case, it is the AES Cayuga plant. Cayuga Lake is deprived of valuable fish larvae and eggs each year (almost 576,000), when plants such as AES Cayuga suck in water to cool their machinery, killing millions of threatened and endangered fish in the process.

When I saw that plants like these were killing millions of fish a year all over the country I was completely outraged: how was it possible that this massive killing of fish could take place and that plants and local governments where not working together to find a better solution?

Take action now—tell the EPA that you want these massive fish kills to end.

Another Bad Guy

Lake Erie

Lake Erie (Mark Hogan/Flickr)

Similarly, the Great Lakes region biodiversity is being threatened by the destructive tendencies of gigantic power plants that are about as environmentally tech-savvy as a WWI tank. Nearby Cayuga Lake, in the western Lake Erie Basin- one of the most biologically productive locations within all the Great Lakes– First Energy operates one of the most irresponsible and environmentally destructive plants in the country.

Operating this facility’s intake of water severely affects the diverse ecosystem supported by the lake.  As a result of its negligently destructive practices, Bayshore kills approximately 46 million fish every year. These kills impact the largest freshwater commercial fisheries in the world, and the largest sport fishery in the Great Lakes.

YouTube Preview Image

So destructive is the plant, that concerned local organizations, such as the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) tried to stop the plant from having the permit that ensures they abide the keeping of clean, safe water resources renewed. In their comments, they expressed that “[the] permit should not be renewed unless and until substantial restitution has been made to the State of Ohio for the massive fish kills that have resulted from the plant over the years.”

Federal Cuts to Environmental Watchdog

The permit was renewed (unfortunately) until 2015, under the condition that the facility reduces impingement and entrainment by 60-80%. However, with the passage of the House Appropriations bill, the efforts by the EPA to protect our water resources would be completely halted in Lake Erie and all the other waterbodies in the country which are severely affected.

What does this mean? It means that environmentally devastating plants such as Bayshore would still get away with their irresponsible and unsustainable practices.

The Clean Water Act requires that permits for plants that operate with cooling systems  reflect the best technology available, so that the effects of their water intake on the aquatic life that lives nearby be dramatically reduced. Currently, the best technology available is closed-cycle cooling towers, which would reduce mortality rates by up to 90%.  These are used by more than half of American power plants, demonstrating the technology is readily available.

However, across America approximately 520 facilities use once-through cooling systems. In sucking up millions of gallons of water from nearby lakes, rivers and seas, they kill billions of organisms. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each year these plants are known to kill about

  • 2.1 billion fish,
  • 2.2 billion larvae fish and
  • 14 million juvenile fish by “entraining” them (sucking them into deadly cooling systems) or “impinging” them against these massive structures screens.

Worse yet,  EPA’s study showed that Shortnose Sturgeons, Loggerhead Sea Turtles and Atlantic Salmons represent  only a few of the 88 aquatic threatened and endangered species whose habitats overlap with plant facilities!

Take Action

Without your help, these endangered species will “see their populations only continue to wane… Take action now—tell the EPA that you want these massive fish kills to end.