The Palm Beach Post reported today:
A massive influx of jellyfish shut down the St. Lucie nuclear power plant in late August, but it is only now that nuclear regulators, wildlife officials and marine researchers are learning that the event also killed several tons of protected goliath grouper.
According to the Post:
The four-day event began Aug. 22. The plant’s three intake pipes, located almost a quarter-mile offshore, began sucking in an unusually large number of moon jellyfish. Travelling through the pipes at about 4.6 mph, the jellyfishes’ poisonous tentacles broke off.
Trash rakes and large, rotating metal screens that prevent debris from getting into storage tanks could not keep pace with the influx of dying and dead jellyfish and became clogged. That caused pressure to build in the pumps that keep the water flowing in the plant for cooling.
For fish trapped in the plant’s intake canal, the situation became lethal. Unable to escape the canal, the poisonous tentacles attached to their gills, which became grossly swollen. Biologists from Inwater Research Group, a nonprofit that oversees the plant’s turtle protection program, poured white vinegar on the gills of the giant grouper in an attempt to save them. Ten were rescued before divers were forced out of the water after they, too, were stung.
Plant officials are not sure how many grouper were killed:
No one kept count of how many goliath grouper died or whether they carried tags from research projects, said Jonathan Gorham, vice president of Inwater. There were between 50 and 75 dead grouper, he said. A scientist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the weight of each grouper was estimated at up to 200 pounds.
Environmental groups are turning their attention to fish kill at nuclear power plants:
…environmentalists say billions of fish are killed every year at U.S. nuclear plants, especially plants like St. Lucie, which constantly suck water – and marine life – into the plant rather than recirculate and reuse water like FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami does.
“The magnitude of the fish kills is enormous, but there is not good, accurate data,” said Reed Super, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Riverkeepers, who pointed to FPL’s record-keeping and reporting after the St. Lucie kill as a missed opportunity to gather data.