The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is allowing power stations "to dump millions of gallons of hot water into Illinois waterways each day," a Chicago Tribune report released Monday shows.
Coal and nuclear power plants have had problems getting discharge waters down to the thermal limits because the waters they are bringing in are already warmer than normal due to excessive heat and drought.
Provisions from the agency now allow four coal-fired and four nuclear plants to discharge water up to 97 degrees, the report shows.
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Environmental groups warn that releasing these hot waters back into waterways can cause ecological harm.
Josh Mogerman with the National Resources Defense Council told CBS Chicago that the warmer water "impacts fish that are evolved to live in a specific sort of a temperature. You’re basically scalding the fish; forcing them either to dive deeper for cold water, or in the case of our rivers, we’re boiling them.”
Mogerman noted the impacts of global warming. “We shouldn’t be thinking about our power plants in the context of just one year’s drought, or one year’s heat wave. It’s very likely that the conditions we’re seeing are going to become more normal.”