OREGON — Commercial fishers, local residents and citizen groups released an economic study today that calculates the FirstEnergy Bay Shore coal plant costs Ohio $29.7 million every year in economic damage by destroying fish populations that would otherwise be used by Ohioans for recreation or commercial sale.
The $29.7 million estimate was for damage to fish only, and did not include estimates of damage from other uses such as hunting or bird-watching, both of which also contribute to the state’s economy. The Gentner Consulting Group of Maryland produced the report, using FirstEnergy’s own numbers for how many fish are killed.
Sandy Bihn, a member of Oregon City Council and Executive Director of the Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association, said, “We know that the estimated $100 million cost of installing cooling towers at the Bay Shore plant is economically justified by the annual $29.7 million economic loss from the fish kills.” Cooling towers would reduce fish kills by 95%.
“I have lived and worked within one half mile of the Bay Shore plant starting 17 years before it was built in 1951, and ever since,” said Frank Reynolds, a local resident and commercial fisherman, in comments to the Ohio EPA. “The Bay Shore power plant has killed fish and degraded the Maumee Bay waters, spawning grounds, nursery and general food supply.”
The organizations who supported the study and submitted joint comments to Ohio EPA* are Natural Resources Defense Council, Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper, National Wildlife Federation, Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio Citizen Action, Sierra Club, and Izaak Walton League of America – Ohio Division.
First Energy’s Bay Shore power plant is located in Oregon, Ohio (east of Toledo), near the outfall of the Maumee River in Maumee Bay. The 130 mile long Maumee River is at the heart of the Great Lakes, largest watershed and is also known as the Great Lakes’ most biologically productive river. Studies by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources show that walleye populations in Lake Erie have declined from an estimated 80 million in 2004 to an estimated 20 million in 2010. Yellow perch populations in the Western Basin are also low enough that the commercial fishery for them in the Western Basin has been closed for the last three years.
— Rachael Belz, Coal Program Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action
* Please contact us for a copy of the exhibits