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Ecology

Preserving Surrounding Areas

A radiological environmental monitoring program begins even before the plant starts producing electricity to establish a baseline survey of background radiation in the local environment. This program establishes fixed monitoring stations around the plant to sample air, surface and ground water, milk from local dairies, and vegetation. Plant operators also send samples to state and federal regulators for independent verification.

Most nuclear power plants are along lakes, rivers or seacoasts because the facilities use water to cool the reactors. The water used to make steam in nuclear power plants remains in strictly enclosed, recirculating systems. Cooling water discharged from a plant must meet federal Clean Water Act requirements and state standards to protect water quality and aquatic life. The NRC also reviews plant operations to ensure no adverse impacts to water quality and aquatic ecology.

Safe Habitat for Wildlife

Many have created special nature parks or wildlife sanctuaries to monitor and protect endangered and threatened species. These projects have been recognized by the Wildlife Habitat Council, Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Seven years before the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant began operating along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, scientists began studying local marine life, including blue crabs, oysters and fish. With more than 30 years of data, scientists found that the Calvecology-crocs-small.jpgert Cliffs plant has no adverse effect on the local marine life and, in fact, has benefited some species.

In addition to preserving marine life, nuclear plant operators provide natural habitats for birds, mammals, plants and reptiles found on or near plant sites. Many have created special nature parks or wildlife sanctuaries to monitor and protect endangered and threatened species.