A regional conservation leader accused federal officials Wednesday of “dereliction,” after a fisheries agency omitted recent fish and turtle entrapments from a key endangered species report on the Salem/Hope Creek nuclear plant.
The National Marine Fisheries Service biological opinion on reactor site operations concluded that the site is “likely to adversely affect but not likely to jeopardize continued existence” of two endangered sturgeon species and three endangered turtle species.
Officials came to that conclusion after a nearly five-year study and a long-term assessment that included three years of data on endangered Atlantic sturgeon entrapments in the plant’s 3 billion gallon-per-day intakes. Federal officials listed the Atlantic species as endangered in 2012.
NMFS study counts for Atlantic sturgeon ended in 2013, according to the report, mid-way through a recent surge in snaggings in the plant intake. Some 23 Atlantic sturgeons were caught in the plant intakes from July 1 through mid-April of this year, triple the annual average that the agency predicted for future operations in its new report.
Captures of endangered Shortnose sturgeon since July 1 were four times the higher than rates predicted for the future. Two Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles also were taken over the same period, compared with a predicted one every three years.
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