Brunner Island Power Plant Fined $25k For Susquehanna Smallmouth Damages

In recent years, the main stem of the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg has been under tight regulation of fishing access for smallmouth bass. Over the past 10 years or so, there have been declining numbers of smallmouth bass, especially young bass and the state has blocked anglers from fishing in this section of the river from May 1 to mid June. 

Anglers had been blamed for this decline but we know that there are many factors involved. Last fall, the DEP of Pennsylvania fined the Brunner Island power plant for causing a sudden change to the water temps in the area of the Susquehanna in York County, resulting in the death of many fish, including smallmouth bass.

DEP has sent Talen Energy a notice of violation, saying the department determined the fish kill was caused by a drop in the temperature in the cooling water flowing from the discharge channel. Source

The sudden drop in temperature was considered a form of pollution of the river and violated the state permits related to water discharge.

DEP said the plant has agreed to its request to revise its cold-weather shutdown procedure to ensure that downstream fish populations are not exposed to “cold shock.” If a plant shutdown results in a 6-degree temperature change during a one-hour period, it must notify DEP within four hours of the shutdown.

According to LNP records, there have been at least 12 fish kills at the plant since 1983.

It’s good to see some enforcement of violations such as this. The state wants to blame anglers for the smallmouth population problems in the Susquehanna but there are many factors at play, both known and unknown. 

The good news is that, based on my observations, we are seeing more and more young smallmouth bass in the river. Hopefully this trend continues. 

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