Nuclear Powerplant Kills Nearly One Billion Organisms a Year

The cooling system at Indian Point power plant in New York on the Hudson River uses outdated technology that requires up to 2.5 billion gallons of river water each day for cooling. The daily water use results in deaths of almost one billion river organisms per year according to various publications. The AP reported baby fish and fish eggs, and other life forms are sucked into the cooling system, tossed around, warmed up and then ejected, dead or damaged.

Screens on the intakes stop larger fish from entering the system, but some fish are pressed against the screens and are killed or injured. The New York Department of the Environment and Conservation says one of the species that is being impacted is the shortnose sturgeon, and it is illegal to kill the endangered fish.

The state says the plant must retrofit to a newer cooling system which will not damage Hudson River organisms like the current one has been. The company that runs the plant says the retrofit is too expensive and will require operations to shut down for too long, and they can’t afford to lose the revenues. Indian Point is said to have been refusing to upgrade their cooling system for thirty years. (Other plants, including non-nuclear ones, already have the new technology which is much better for the health of rivers.)

A Hudson River conservation group says the resistance has lasted 44 years, “Since its inception in 1966, Riverkeeper, together with our partners Scenic Hudson and NRDC, has been fighting to force Indian Point to upgrade to a closed-loop cooling system to protect Hudson River fisheries.”

So is it possible about 40 billion organisms in the Hudson River have lost their lives due the operation of one power plant? (If the rate of nearly one billion a year was constant for the period.)

Indian Point generates about 30% of New York City’s electricity. The plant actually has three nuclear reactors, Unit 1 was shut down in 1974 due to inadequate emergency core cooling technology. The plant is operated by Entergy Corporation.

Image Credit: Daniel Case

Related Links
Save Hudson River Island Park
Nuclear Energy: Good or Bad?
Radioactive Fish Found in Vermont


Hartson Doak
Hartson Doak6 years ago

Indian Point was originally built by the Mafia using substandard materials with every short cut possible being taken. When the plant went online, it leaked like a sieve. The NRC investigated and found that the Quality Control Inspectors were threaten with their lives if they found ANYTHING wrong. So the inspectors never left the office. They just signed all paperwork that given to them. The leaks were repaired and the plant put online. This plant is still substandard in construction. The rebar and concrete was not to spec. Piping that was not replaced was not of specified requirements. This plant NOW HAS EXCEEDED IT'S DESIGN LIFE!!!! New England was just lucky that the WHOLE area was not contaminated by a Fukushima like disaster. New Jersey, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Portland are ALL in the down wind area of a possible plume. THIS PLANT NEEDS TO BE DECOMMISSIONED. By the way, I was a Quality Control Nuclear inspector. I worked in the industry from 1970 to 85. I live in Hawaii. It is 2500 miles from the nearest commercial nuke.

Rose Balcom
Rose Balcom6 years ago

Go Robert Jr. Go!

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers7 years ago

I had hopes that the U.S. would make progress in the right direction. Apparently not!

Camila K.
Kamila A7 years ago


Mit W.
Mit Wes7 years ago

What counts as an organism in this case?

JD Peterson
JD Peterson7 years ago

As well, Indian Point is the most at risk facility in the US. It's susceptible to an earthquake, 1 in 10,000 chances each year.

Adam K.
Douglas K7 years ago

No one has the right to kill the endangered species but the Nuclear Power Plant has the right to kill the endangered species. And has been going on for 40 years.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M7 years ago

Very interesting article on the Indian Point Power Plant on the Hudson River. Seems as though this plant should be shut down, especially with the damage it is doing to fish and the rivers ecosystem.
Thanks for sharing Jake.

Helen K.
Helen K7 years ago

This is so sad.
In domestic pools we put filters in front of the pump so that we do not suck in the fish. I guess it does lower the pressure a bit but surely we can think up something to stop this killing - like let the water intake be higher than the pump so that the increase in the potential energy compensates for the pressure drop of the filter. I am sure greater minds than mine can think up something - to kill so much is awful.