Originally run on YDR:
Say goodbye to fishing at Brunner Island. Talen Energy, which owns and operates the power plant that burns coal and natural gas on the island in the Susquehanna River, has barred fishing, boating and hiking on its land.
According to Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Ted Evgeniadis, Talen closed a boat launch off Wago Road, the wetlands area surrounding the plant and a fishing access site directly at the discharge from the plant.
The news came as a surprise to Evgeniadis and to state Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Hellam Township, whose district includes the plant.
“I got a letter maybe a week or 10 days before they did this,” Gillespie said. “I reached out to the plant manager and other officials associated with that. They were firm in their mission to close.”
Gillespie called the island a “destination” because of warm-water discharge that attracts fish – and anglers. The closure affects anglers and boaters. It might also affect local businesses. Evgeniadis said there’s a bait shop, a boating guide service and other businesses that might be hurt economically.
Chuck Landis of Landisville works at Susquehanna Fishing Tackle in Columbia. He liked fishing at Brunner Island in the wintertime because the warm water prevented ice. He was planning on fishing there again this winter when he heard from people at the shop that Talen was considering closing the area. Later, he got word that it officially closed.
“I was really surprised and disappointed because that’s a really popular area,” he said.
In an email to the YDR on Dec. 28, Talen Media Relations Manager Todd Martin said the company closed access because they “are operating an active power plant.”
“All of our employees are focused on the safe, efficient operation of the plant and we do not have personnel available to operate a public access program,” he wrote. “Additionally, there are safety and liability concerns including; stolen and damaged property, vandalism and inappropriate (sometimes illegal) activities on private property.”
Gillespie said he’s heard of people dumping trash and drinking in a wetlands area across the road from the plant. However, he said he was “disappointed” that Talen didn’t explore other options such as patrol guards or cameras. He said he at least hoped for a town meeting or some sort of community interaction.
“Once a year they have a community meeting,” he said. “I will be sure to attend that next one and express my extreme displeasure.”
This isn’t the first time Talen has closed land to the public.
In April 2016, the company closed Holtwood Park in Lancaster County — including popular hiking spot Kelly’s Run. The park, owned by Talen at the time, was close to its Holtwood Dam hydroelectric plant.