Georgia Power is closing two of the four coal-fired electric plants on Lake Sinclair for good in 2015 because they are old and unable to meet the new clean air standards. Consider it a victory. The lake is one of the finest bass fishing. What the people consider a loss over jobs the ecosystem just gained in life support and health.
What will it do to the warmer water the fish in the lake has become accustomed to
Lake Sinclair was made when they constructed a dam on the river Oconee and anglers are worried it will just become a large pond with a river running through it. In the summer the water runs pumped to cool Lake Oconee and comes back to Lake Sinclair warmed, during the winter months the plant isn’t being used. Warmed water is not what the lake needed but is what the residents, the aquatic life and the wildlife and vegetation have become accustomed to. The fish will very slowly recover to their large numbers and thrive.
How often has the lake been stocked
When a coal-fired plant pumps water to use for cooling and for steam fish, eggs and larvae and all kinds of microscopic aquatic life, shrimp and the like, get killed in the process. Fish that are sensitive to the heated water are already swimming deeper to find cooler water. Taking the coal-fired plants off of the lake could be the best thing to happen to the fish in Lake Sinclair.
When it’s summer and the temperatures are in the extremes and both plants are running the water to cool it for electricity, the water being released doesn’t always have proper time to cool sufficiently. The normal temperature to run warm water at hold before releasing it is 90 degrees, but during the extreme heat of summer special orders, during grid alerts, may be given to allow it to sit to 97 degrees before releasing it.
Heavy metal, mercury, selenium
Causing further damage is the rain running off the stored coal causing sediment and heavy metal, like arsenic or led, runoff into the waters which harm the fish and vegetation, and us as we eat our catch, this kind of discharge is usually monitored and given a permit for the discharge.
The true cost of coal
Coal is naturally contaminated with mercury. According to the Natural Defense Council coal-fired plants are the largest producers of mercury contaminating the waters. Another by-product of the coal-fired plant is selenium. The only reason why mercury may not appear so heavily in some fish is because the rate of selenium is even higher. Selenium poisoning to fish is invisible because the primary impact is the egg where the selenium is stored resulting in deformity (missing fins, protruding eyes, grossly deformed spines and heads) or death. An adult fish can appear healthy even though massive reproductive failure is happening rendering them sterile. Consequently fish populations decline or die off.
Heated lake water produces a longer growing season but it also prevents the accumulation of old large fish. This is just the beginning of the damage report, there’s more. Not only did we dam the waters trapping the fish from millions of years of happy spawning trails but then they are forced to live in waters unsuitable for all life forms, in the name of electricity.
There’s more ways than one to skin a cat, and so there are more ways than one to produce electricity than the old-fashioned coal-fired plant. Bragging about the fishery and its feasibility to come back and barely contain itself under such poor living conditions is an atrocity, and we should be ashamed.
Are the waters being stocked because we overfish or because we over kill?
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