Pe Doesn't Need Strip-mine Water To Cool Nuclear Reactor, State Says

Posted: April 16, 1986

New figures compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources contradict assertions by Philadelphia Electric Co. that it needs water from an abandoned strip mine to cool the Limerick nuclear reactor in Montgomery County.

At a hearing before the Delaware River Basin Commission, held yesterday in

Pottstown, Commission Chairman R. Timothy Weston said the DER figures, compiled about 10 days ago, showed that PE could operate the plant throughout 1986 using only a combination of water allocations from the Schuylkill and two reservoirs owned by the Borough of Tamaqua.

Weston, who is also associate deputy for natural resources in DER's office of resources management, said the state believed that a combination of allocations would provide Limerick with enough water for 110 days of full- power operation.

That, combined with the fact that PE plans to shut down Unit 1 for six weeks of testing in May and June, means that all of Limerick's water needs could be met in 1986 even if there were a severe drought, he said.

Weston said he would give the DER's figures to the commission staff for evaluation before the three-member panel votes on PE's water request.

To keep Limerick operating during dry months, when PE is restricted in how much it can draw from the Schuylkill, the company is seeking permission to use the Tamaqua water as well as allocations from two nearby non-nuclear plants - PE's Cromby II oil-fired plant near Phoenixville and Metropolitan Edison's Titus coal-fired plant near Reading.

But the most controversial aspect of the plan is PE's request to use water

from the so-called Beechwood Pits, a Reading Anthracite Co. strip mine near Pottsville. Tests have shown that water from the pits does not meet the

commission's drinking-water standards.

PE proposes to release no more than one part of Beechwood water for every three parts of Tamaqua water.

Weston said he did not know when the commission would vote on the request.

About a dozen people testified at the hearing and appeared to be equally divided between supporters and opponents of PE's requests.

James Waters 3d, of the Port Indian Civic Association near Norristown, gave the commission a petition with nearly 500 signatures from residents who demanded improvement in the water quality of the Schuylkill.

Waters said that although he sympathized with PE, he did not think the public should suffer because of the firm's water problems.

comments powered by Disqus