Delaware City Refinery's Fish Impacts
The Delaware City Refinery extracts on average over 450 million gallons of water from the Delaware River daily, for the purpose of cooling plant equipment and units as it processes nearly 200,000 barrels of petroleum per day. In the process, it impinges millions of fish on the intake screens and entrains millions more small fish, eggs and larvae. The estimated death toll of fish impingement and entrainment at the refinery is 100%. The refinery has been described as one of the largest predators on the Delaware River, out-fishing commercial and recreational fisheries combined for many species.
Operating on Expired Permits: The cooling water intake structure is operating on a permit that expired in 2002. Not only has the State of Delaware allowed this to occur, it has offered additional extensions to the refinery for its 2011 restart, and provides a 9-year compliance timeline for the installation of best available technology with in their next permit (the draft has not yet adopted)
Antiquated Methods: The exorbitant amounts of water used for cooling can largely be attributed to WWII era antiquated equipment that was designed decades ago, in which water is not recycled but used in a once-through manner. The cooling process is necessary to prevent equipment from overheating and over pressuring and producing further air emissions. This current process destroys vast amounts of aquatic life.
Fish Intake: Through entrainment (fish and other aquatic life being sucked into the cooling mechanism) and impingement (fish and other aquatic life being pinned against cooling equipment) the losses of fish alone number in the tens of millions annually; amongst the most threatened are white perch, weakfish and bay anchovies. This process captures fish in numbers that exponentially exceed recreational limits for a variety of aquatic species, and makes the Refinery amongst the largest fishers in the state, de facto.
Costs to the Delaware River Fishery: The EPA estimates that the annual economic damages from the Delaware City Refinery on fisheries alone to be as high as $5.8 million dollars annually. While there are strict limits on commercial and recreational fishing, the refinery is able to kill fish indiscriminately and without limit.
Other Options Exist: For years the refinery has balked at suggestions that they install an alternative cooling system, which would eliminate fish impingement and entrainment.