The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Delaware River Basin Commission conducted a joint hearing on Tuesday evening at the Sunnybrook Ballroom in Pottstown.
In attendance was Carol Collier, executive director for the DRBC; Jenifer Fields, PADEP Program Manager, Water Management; William Muszinsky, Water Resources Management Branch; and Kelly Hefner, DEP Deputy Secretary.
This hearing was conducted as an opportunity for members of the public to express their opinion on a water-usage project for Limerick Generating Station that has been in the works for quite a long time.
The hearing date was announced in July, but the nearly eight years ago.
The project involves increasing the amount of water that Limerick Generating Station pulls from the Schuylkill River and Perkiomen Creek and using water from the Wadesville Mine Pool, an abandoned mine near Pottsville.
Speakers were given three minutes to present their remarks. A total of thirteen people spoke. Arguments both for and against the project came from the speakers.
Several members of the Alliance for a Clean Environment, including ACE's president Dr. Lewis Cuthbert and vice-president Donna Cuthbert aired their concerns that Limerick Generating Station is polluting the area's water supply.
"This is the worst threat to water and health in my 15 years of [Limerick Generating Station] permit reviews," Donna Cuthbert said.
Both Dr. and Mrs. Cuthbert testified they believe that the plant needs independent, comprehensive testing.
East Coventry Township supervisors Michael Moyer and Mariea Geho also spoke.
Moyer compared the environmental damage - as he put it, "the killing of the Schuylkill River" - to the 1974 death of union activist Karen Silkwood.
Moyer described the hearing as "farcical" and said that Exelon "failed to disclose [radioactive water] leaks" until after they had happened.
ACE member Lorraine Ruppe said, "We’re not allowed to eat the fish from the river, but it’s OK to drink the water?"
Several people who spoke in favor of the project are involved with various conservation groups.
Bill Reichert, of the Schuylkill Headwaters Association, said that he feels that Exelon has been "serious, dedicated and passionate" about helping the environment.
The SHA supports the project, Reichert said, but does feel that water drawn from abandoned mines should be treated to resolve issues with pH and metals in the water.
Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy conservation coordinator Krista Scheirer said that in her experience, "Exelon is committed to protecting resources. We believe they will act responsibly."
DRBC director Collier told Patch that the two agencies would issue written responses to concerns raised at public hearings.
Comments will not be answered individually, but the topics raised will be addressed by a general statement on those topics.
According to the DRBC website, written comments will be accepted on this docket until October 27, 2012 at 5:00pm.
Written comments on the draft docket approval may be submitted to DRBC staff at the hearing or sent as follows: via email to Paula.Schmitt@drbc.state.nj.us or in hard copy to the attention of the Commission Secretary, DRBC, either by fax to (609) 883-9522; U.S. Mail to P.O. Box 7360, West Trenton, NJ 08628-0360; or delivery service to 25 State Police Drive, West Trenton, NJ 08628-0360. Regardless of the method of submission, comments should include the name, affiliation (if any), and address of the commenter and the subject line, "Public Comment - Exelon LGS Docket."
Written comments on the draft NPDES permit may be submitted to PADEP at the hearing or sent to the attention of Ms. Jenifer Fields via email at email@example.com; by fax to (484) 250-5971; or by U.S. mail or delivery service to DEP, Southeast Regional Office, Clean Water Program, 2 E. Main Street, Norristown, PA 19401. All comments should include the name, affiliation, and address of the commenter and the subject line "Public Comment - Exelon Limerick Generating Station Docket."
The DRBC is expected to meet on December 5, 2012.