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Local News

Public Comments Sought on Waste Water Permit for Fermi 2 Nuclear Plant

Credit: iStock

Farrah Siddiqi

A draft permit for waste water from DTE Energy’s Fermi 2 Power Plant is open for public comment until October 21.

Michigan environmental groups are pushing for changes to how water is used at the DTE Energy nuclear plant in Monroe County.

Jesse Deer-In-Water, a community organizer with the advocacy group Citizen’s Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT), said 45 million gallons of water a day are dumped straight from the power plant into Swan Creek and Lake Erie.

“But it’s not the same water that went in,” said Deer-In-Water. “It’s become overheated, and there’s extra chemicals and stuff that’s added to it, so that when it goes back out, the toxins dissolve or dissipate at a slow rate.”

Although Michigan Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) declined an interview – the agency said the current notice is for the regular five-year permit renewal, through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), and doesn’t include any significant changes to the current operating conditions at Fermi Two.

Comments can be submitted through the ‘MiEnviro Portal.’

Correspondence from Michigan EGLE says the NPDES permit does not regulate radioactive discharges. In general, the permit authorizes the discharge of what’s referred to as “noncontact cooling water.”

While it also authorizes the discharge of what’s called “radwaste” water, this isn’t technically considered radioactive waste.

Deer-In-Water acknowledged that it’s confusing – and said EGLE could do more to ensure the safety of local communities, including setting a limit on how hot the discharged water can be.

“MI EGLE has imposed thermal limits on other Great Lakes nuclear power plants that it regulates,” said Deer-In-Water. “And that was the Donald Cook plant on the other side of the state. So, it’s been done before.”

Michigan EGLE says the radiological aspects of the plant, including the release of “radwaste” water, are regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

It says the plant treats the radwaste water to remove radioactivity, tests it before release, and is required to document any known discharges of radioactivity under the plant’s NRC license.

Disclosure: Citizens’ Resistance at Fermi Two contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment, Environmental Justice, Native American Issues, Nuclear Waste. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.