Coal Plants Drag Heels on Emissions Cuts

by | Jan 4, 2013

Emissions increased or showed little change at seven of the 10 worst mercury-emitting coal-fired power plants in 2011, compared to 2010, according to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project.

The seven plants are owned by Luminant Generation, Southern Company, Great River Energy, Grand River Dam Authority and DTE Energy. But EIP also found that mercury emissions at three of the 10 plants – Luminant’s Big Brown, Ameren Missouri’s Labadie, and AEP’s H.W. Pirkey – dropped at least 20 percent over the one-year period.

The Toxic Ten: Top Power Plant Emissions of Mercury, Toxic Metals, and Acid Gases in 2011 uses EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory data to identify the largest sources of toxic pollutants based on annual reports the electric power industry submits to EPA.

Texas is home to five of the 10 worst mercury-emitting coal-fired power plants, the analysis found, and Luminant Generation owns four of the five.

Together, the top 10 facilities account for about 18 percent of mercury emissions from all coal-burning power plants nationwide in 2011. They are:

  1. Luminant Generation, Martin Lake Steam Electric Station & Lignite Mine in Rusk County, Texas (1,501 lbs. of mercury emissions).
  2. Southern Co., Gaston Steam Plant in Shelby, Ala. (1,244 lbs. of mercury emissions).
  3. Luminant Generation, Big Brown Steam Electric Station & Lignite Mine in Freestone County, Texas (1,240 lbs. of mercury emissions).
  4. Luminant Generation, Monticello Steam Electric Station & Lignite Mine in Titus County, Texas (911 lbs. of mercury emissions).
  5. Luminant Generation, Sandow Steam Electric Station in Milam County, Texas (841 lbs. of mercury emissions).
  6. Great River Energy, Coal Creek Station in Mclean County, N.D. (812 lbs. of mercury emissions).
  7. Ameren Corp., Ameren Missouri Labadie Energy Center in Franklin, Mo. (795 lbs. of mercury emissions).
  8. Grand River Dam Authority, Grand River Coal Fired Complex in Mayes County, Okla.(722 lbs. of mercury emissions).
  9. DTE Energy, Detroit Edison Monroe Power Plant in Monroe County, Mich. (708 lbs. of mercury emissions).
  10. American Electric Power, H.W. Pirkey Power Plant in Harrison County, Texas (683 lbs. of mercury emissions).

The report also identifies the largest emitters of carcinogenic metals, which include arsenic, cobalt chromium, lead, and nickel. The five largest sources of such toxins are:

  1. Consumers Energy, JH Campbell in Ottawa, Mich. (2,904 lbs. of chromium; 522 lbs. of cobalt; 2,458 lbs. of lead; 3,304 lbs. of nickel and 8,666 lbs. of metals total).
  2. Basin Electric, Laramie River Station in Platte, Wyo. (3,000 lbs. of arsenic; 2,507 lbs. of chromium; 750 of cobalt; 2,458 lbs. of lead; 2,204 lbs. of nickel; and 8,535 lbs. of metals total).
  3. Tennessee Valley Authority, Paradise Fossil Plant in Muhlenberg, Ky. (1,505 lbs. of arsenic; 1,409 lbs. of chromium; 303 lbs. of cobalt; 1,907 lbs. of lead; 1,510 lbs. of nickel; and 6,634 lbs. of metals total).
  4. American Electric Power, Conesville Plant in Coshocton, Ohio (525 lbs. of arsenic; 2,950 lbs. of chromium; 440 lbs. of cobalt; 452 lbs. of lead; 2,250 lbs. of nickel; and 6,617 lbs. of metals total).
  5. First Energy Generation Corp., Bruce Mansfield Power Plant in Beaver, Pa. (1,377 lbs. of arsenic; 2,310 lbs. of chromium; 500 lbs. of cobalt; 1,159 lbs. of lead; 1,578 lbs. of nickel; and 6,273 lbs. of metals total).

In late December, the EPA toughened its air quality standards for fine particulate matter, or soot, released from automobile exhausts and power plants. The agency set the annual health standard at 12 micrograms per cubic meter, a 20 percent reduction from the current rule.

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