Thursday, March 09, 2006

KeySpan Seeks Renewal of Discharge Permit

With 19 permitted outfalls discharging 180 million gallons or more of effluent and stormwater daily into Hempstead Harbor, the Glenwood Landing KeySpan complex has a tremendous impact on Hempstead Harbor's water quality.

The State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permitting process helps to regulate such discharges. On January 11, KeySpan applied to renew its SPDES permit for the main Glenwood Landing Power Station.

Noting the considerable impact that KeySpan’s activities have on the harbor, the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee (HHPC) has submitted extensive comments in connection with the application. Among the committee’s major requests:

• installation of a permanent, continuous monitoring device downstream of cooling water discharge outfalls;

• better control of stormwater, which the Water Quality Improvement Plan for Hempstead Harbor identifies as the single largest threat to water quality in the harbor;

• that the water quality monitoring that KeySpan is required to perform be conducted under the Quality Assurance Program Plan approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;

• that HHPC receive all water quality data, monitoring reports, incident reports, and studies required under the permit;

• that the best management plan that KeySpan is required to develop be broadened to include compliance with the Water Quality Improvement Plan for Hempstead Harbor and the Harbor Management Plan for Hempstead Harbor.

HHPC commended KeySpan for using sodium hypochlorite at two cooling water intakes. The practice prevents fouling of the cooling system, which results in foam around the outfalls—a problem that had, at one time, been noted by many passersby. Since the addition of sodium hypochlorite, chlorine has not be detected around the outfalls during regular water quality monitoring, and the Nassau County Dept. of Health reports that there have been no complaints about foaming in at least three years.

The way the KeySpan complex handles stormwater has been more problematic. Nine of the outfalls listed in the current permit application are stormwater outfalls. In 2003, when KeySpan received a SPDES permit for the two new generators located slightly east and north of the plant, it became clear that the stormwater specifications outlined in that permit fell short of both county and state guidelines. Furthermore, an analysis conducted by HHPC showed that the stormwater system that had been installed under the permit specifications did not accommodate area rainfall during 2003.

When these facts were brought to the attention of DEC, DEC could not require that KeySpan correct the situation because adequate specifications had not been included in the permit.

In view of this history, HHPC has requested that the stormwater capacity of the main power station be expanded and that the renewed permit for this portion of the KeySpan complex be based on county and NYS Stormwater Design Manaul standards.

HHPC is an intermunicipal organization. Comprised of the municipalities surrounding Hempstead Harbor, it is charged with assessing and ensuring long-term water quality in the harbor. The GW/GH Civic Association participates in the committee as a nonvoting member.

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