Are Millstone’s Nuclear Plants Adding To The Sound’s Warming Problems?
TERFORD — The Millstone nuclear plants suck in about 2 billion gallons of seawater a day to cool their reactors and then pump the heated water back into Long Island Sound, a shallow estuary scientists say has been warming for decades.
The plants’ operators and Connecticut state environmental officials say there is no scientific evidence that the hot water from Millstone is having any significant impact on overall temperatures in the Sound. They argue climate change is the critical reason why the Sound’s 18 trillion gallons of water are heating up.
Some folks on the eastern tip of Long Island look at Millstone — which sits just 10 miles away across the Sound — and aren’t convinced. They wonder if all that “thermal pollution” being pumped out of the nuclear plants is making life increasingly difficult for cold-water-loving species like lobster and winter flounder already struggling to survive in a warming world.
Long Island’s Suffolk County government this spring voted to spend $80,000 for a new study by Stony Brook University researchers to determine if Millstone is contributing to or accelerating the warming of the Sound’s waters.
“Climate change is having an impact on Long Island Sound,” said Jay Schneidermann, a Suffolk County legislator from Montauk. But Schneidermann doubts that global warming alone can account for the steady rise in Sound temperatures, which are increasing by about seven-tenths of a degree per decade.
Schneidermann said that, when you look for “thermal inputs” into the Sound outside of global warming, “The one that jumps out at you is Millstone.”