Pe Denied Water From Strip Mine Limerick Coolant Alternatives Okd

Posted: April 30, 1986

The Delaware River Basin Commission yesterday rejected a Philadelphia Electric Co. request to use water from an abandoned strip mine as supplemental coolant for the Limerick nuclear power plant in Montgomery County.

In a 3-0 vote at its headquarters in Trenton, the commission instead approved PE's use of reservoir water purchased from the borough of Tamaqua, which can be used with allocations from two non-nuclear plants - PE's Cromby II oil-fired plant near Phoenixville and Metropolitan Edison's Titus coal- fired plant near Reading.

The commission also approved PE's request to use the level of dissolved oxygen in water, rather than water temperature, in determining how much can be withdrawn from the Schuylkill. Using the dissolved-oxygen standard will allow the utility to use more water from the Schuylkill, where the summer heat can lower water quality.

"Hopefully, this will be enough to get us through the summer," said PE spokesman Neil McDermott.

Because of the legal snarl that has prevented completion of the Point Pleasant pumping station in Bucks County, PE has been forced to seek alternative sources of supplemental cooling water for Limerick during dry months, when there are limits on how much water can be drawn from the Schuylkill.

Yesterday's vote followed a hearing in Pottstown on April 15, in which

commission Chairman R. Timothy Weston announced that figures compiled by the state Department of Environmental Resources (DER) contradicted assertions by PE that Limerick needed water from a Reading Anthracite Co. strip mine, known as the Beechwood Pit, near Pottsville.

Tests have shown that water from the pit does not meet the commission's drinking-water standards, whereas the Tamaqua water is exceptionally clean.

PE had proposed to release into the Schuykill, a primary source of drinking water for the region, no more than one part of Beechwood water for every three parts of Tamaqua water.

But the DER said Limerick could operate throughout 1986 using only the combination of water allocations from the Schuylkill and Tamaqua, according to Weston, who also is associate deputy for natural resources in DER's Office of Resources Management.

Weston said, and the commission yesterday agreed, that even without the Beechwood water, Limerick would have enough from the other supplemental sources to operate at full power for 110 days. Combined with the fact that PE

plans to shut down Unit 1 for six weeks of testing starting Friday, Weston said, all of Limerick's water needs could be met this year, even if there were a severe drought.

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