Cape Fear Steam Plant

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Cape Fear Steam Electric Plant was a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Progress Energy near Moncure, North Carolina. The plant ceased operation on October 1, 2012.[1]

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Progress Energy to shut Cape Fear and other N.C. coal plants

On December 1, 2009, Progress Energy Carolinas announced that by the end of 2017 it would permanently close all of its North Carolina coal plants without sulfur dioxide scrubbers. The 11 units at L.V. Sutton, Cape Fear, Weatherspoon, and Lee total almost 1,500 megawatts and represent about a third of the utility's coal-fired power generation in N.C. The retirement plan includes the following:

  • Lee is scheduled for retirement in 2013.
  • Sutton is slated for closure in 2014. Progress hopes to replace it with a natural gas-fired power plant.
  • Cape Fear and Weatherspoon will be shut down between 2013 and 2017. The company is considering converting 50 to 150MW of the total capacity to burn wood waste.

The closure plan was filed in response to a request by the N.C. Utilities Commission, which ordered Progress to provide its retirement schedule for "unscrubbed" coal-fired units in North Carolina. The request was a condition of the commission's approval of Progress' plan to close Lee and build a 950-MW natural gas plant at the site.[2][3]

Plant Data

  • Owner: Progress Energy Carolinas Inc.
  • Parent Company: Progress Energy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 329 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 141 MW (1956), 188 MW (1958)
  • Location: 500 CP&L Rd., Moncure, NC 27559
  • GPS Coordinates: 35.587778, -79.044444
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 1,977,162 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions:
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions:
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions:

Coal Waste Sites

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Cape Fear

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[4] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[5]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Cape Fear Steam Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 5 $33,000,000
Heart attacks 7 $740,000
Asthma attacks 80 $4,000
Hospital admissions 3 $80,000
Chronic bronchitis 3 $1,300,000
Asthma ER visits 4 $2,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Cape Fear ranked 81st on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[6] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[7]

Cape Fear Steam Plant ranked number 81 on the list, with 334,076 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[6]

Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Cape Fear coal waste site

A report released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011 stated that there are many health threats associated with a toxic cancer-causing chemical found in coal ash waste called hexavalent chromium. The report specifically cited 29 sites in 17 states where the contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash and included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin. In North Carolina, the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, the Asheville Plant in Asheville and the Cape Fear Steam Plant in Montcure all were reported as having high levels of chromium seeping into groundwater.[8]

According to the report, hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was reported at the Cape Fear unlined coal waste pond site at 100 ppb (parts per billion) - 5,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and at the federal maximum drinking water standard.[8]

As a press release about the report read:

Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.[9]

According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.[8]

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. "Duke Energy subsidiary retires two coal-fired power plants" Fossil Fuel, October 2, 2012.
  2. "Progress Energy Carolinas Plans to Retire Remaining Unscrubbed Coal Plants in N.C.," PRNewswire, December 1, 2009.
  3. Tina Casey, "Progress Energy Joins Stampede Away from Coal," Reuters, December 2, 2009.
  4. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  5. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  7. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
  9. "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer, Examiner.com, February 1, 2011.

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