Sandow Station

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Sandow Station is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Alcoa near Rockdale, Texas. Pictured below are all five units of Sandow Station; Unit 4 and Unit 5 are owned by Luminant.

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Plant Data

  • Owner/Parent Company: Alcoa
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1535 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 121 MW (1953), 121 MW (1954), 121 MW (1954), 591 MW (1981), 581 MW (2009)
  • Location: Rockdale, TX 76567
  • GPS Coordinates: 30.564167, -97.063889
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:

Alcoa, Inc. Clean Air Act Settlement

On April 9, 2003 the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. EPA announced a settlement agreement with Alcoa Inc. for an estimated $330 million to install a new coal-fired power plant at its aluminum production facility in Rockdale, Texas with upgraded pollution controls to help eliminate sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

The settlement resolved allegations filed in federal court by the EPA and its co-plaintiffs, Neighbors for Neighbors, Inc., Environmental Defense, and Public Citizen that the company had unlawfully operated the Sandow Station since it overhauled the Rockdale power plant without installing necessary pollution controls and without first obtaining proper permits required by the New Source Review program of the Clean Air Act.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's executive director Margaret Hoffman said, “As a result of this joint investigation and cooperative effort between state and federal officials, Texans will enjoy cleaner air. That's a victory for everyone.”

The EPA notes that Alcoa's coal-fired plant, located in northeast of Austin, was the single largest non-utility source of SO2 and NOx emissions in the country. The plant generates electricity for two aluminum smelters and a strip-mining operation that supplies lignite coal for the power plant. The aluminum at the plant is used for truck wheels, cans, die-casts, machinery, components for telecommunication devices and appliances.

Alcoa also paid a $1.5 million civil suit and $2.5 million on two additional environmental projects in an attempt to offset past emissions.[1]

Emissions Data (total for all units)

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 4,901,917 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 23,747 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 4,307 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 524 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Sandow Station

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.[2] 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.[3]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Sandow Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 8 $62,000,000
Heart attacks 13 $1,400,000
Asthma attacks 160 $8,000
Hospital admissions 6 $150,000
Chronic bronchitis 5 $2,400,000
Asthma ER visits 9 $4,000

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

Articles and Resources


  1. "U. S. Announces Clean Air Act Coal-fired Power Plant Settlement with Alcoa - Settlement Will Reduce Nitrogen Oxide and Sulfur Dioxide Emissions from Facility by More than 90 Percent," U.S. EPA, April 9, 2003.
  2. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  3. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010

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