DEP investigates fish kill near Brunner Island

York Dispatch

The state Department of Environmental Protection is investigating a fish kill in the Susquehanna River near the Brunner Island Steam Electric Station in northern York County.

Department spokesman John Repetz said the dead fish were discovered Monday near the York Haven plant and an investigation has begun.

An initial estimate of the number of fish involved is 150 to 200, he said, adding that officials from the state Fish and Boat Commission were at the site Tuesday to get a more accurate count.

Dead fish were observed in the power station's discharge channel and downstream from the station, Repetz said. No other sources of pollution were identified, he added.

The Brunner Island station shut down Dec. 21, and no discharge of any kind has occurred since, according to Repetz, who said parent company Talen Energy will be submitting its flow and temperature monitoring data to the DEP for review. 

Fishermen in the area Monday said there was a sudden drop in water temperature near Brunner Island during the past week.

About 1,200 fish died last February when an operational glitch at Brunner Island caused surrounding water temperatures to drop suddenly in its discharge canal on the Susquehanna River.

At the time, operators at the plant were in the process of powering down one of the units when the unit's automatic shutdown feature engaged, according to Todd Martin, a company spokesman.

Brunner Island glitch leads to about 1,200 fish deaths

The automatic shutdown caused a 13 degree drop in the surrounding water's temperature over a one-hour period, he said.

The water in the plant's discharge canal is significantly warmer than the natural temperature of the Susquehanna River during the winter, and the fish are attracted to the area as a result, Martin said.

Repetz said then that fish kills happen from time to time because of plant malfunctions, but they occur infrequently. Prior to the February incident, the last fish kill reported at Brunner Island occurred in December 2013, according to DEP records. In that incident, 83 fish died after a pump shutdown reduced the amount of cooling water to the plant and resulted in a sudden increase in temperature in the discharge channel.

Martin, the Talen Energy spokesman, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday about the recent fish kill.