Coal / FirstEnergy

Ohio power plant closing may help Lake Erie’s fish

The closure of the Bay Shore Power Plant could restore the fish population. / WNWO newsfile

TOLEDO — “Environmentalists and charter fishing captains expect Lake Erie’s fish population to climb with the closing of coal-burning units at a Ohio power plant near the mouth of the lake’s biggest tributary.

The plant, which is being shut down by its operator because of new air pollution rules, sucks in billions of gallons of water each year and kills millions of fish near some of the lake’s most popular fishing spots.

Environmental groups have said for years that the fish kills have contributed to declining levels of both yellow perch and walleye, two prized fish that draw anglers from around the Midwest. The groups have tried to force the plant’s owner, Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., to install costly changes that would stop millions of fish from being killed each year.

But last week, FirstEnergy announced it was shutting down six older, coal-fired power plants, including one that sits along the Maumee River near Toledo. The plant cools its machinery with water from the river, which also is a prime spot for spawning walleye.

Drawing out the water kills 46 million adult fish each year, many of which were less desirable fish, but would have gone into the lake’s food chain. The toll includes millions more fish eggs and tiny fish in their larval form. ‘Now those numbers will be way down,’ said Sandy Bihn, who leads a group called the Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association.”

Associated Press

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