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Department of Envtl. Protection v. Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co.

Citation: 5 ELR 20370
No. No. A-218-73, 336 A.2d 750/133 N.J. Super. 375, (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div., 03/21/1975) Aff'd

The state of New Jersey recovers, under the doctrine of parens patriae, a statutory penalty and compensatory damages for a fish kill resulting from continued cooling pump operation during a temporary shutdown of the Oyster Creek nuclear generating plant. The discharge of cold rather than warm water from the pumps into the normally warmed waters of the creek is ruled illegal under a state law prohibiting the introduction of substances which are hazardous, deleterious or destructive to any form of life into state waters. Defendant's argument that this interpretation of the statute represents a denial of due process in that it is unconstitutionally vague is meritless, and the imposition of a $6,000 fine against the defendant is upheld. The court also affirms an award of $935 to the state in a common law tort action seeking compensatory damages for the destruction of public resources. The evidence presented to the trial court supports a determination that defendant's conduct in continuing to operate the cooling pumps during plant shutdown was negligent under the circumstances, and the defendant was thus properly held liable in tort for the fish kill.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Lewis Goldshore Deputy Attorney General
Stephen Skillman Asst. Attorney General
Office of the Governor
Trenton, N.J. 08625

Counsel for Defendant
Robert O. Brokaw Asst. General Attorney
New Jersey Power and Light Co.
Morristown, N.J. 07960