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Conemaugh Generating Station

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Conemaugh Generating Station is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Reliant Energy, now GenOn Energy, near New Florence, Pennsylvania.

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Plant Data

  • Owner/Parent Company: GenOn Energy
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,872 MW
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 936 MW (1970), 936 MW (1971)
  • Location: 1442 Power Plant Rd., New Florence, PA 15944
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.386389, -79.05583
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 13,991,064 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 8,037 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 23,367 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 500 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Conemaugh

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.[1] 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.[2]

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

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 27 $200,000,000
Heart attacks 46 $5,000,000
Asthma attacks 430 $22,000
Hospital admissions 21 $490,000
Chronic bronchitis 16 $7,200,000
Asthma ER visits 20 $7,000

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

EPA Violations

According to New York Times compilation of 2009 EPA data the plant has violated the Clean Water Act 392 times without paying any fines.

GenOn pays $5 million settlement for violations

In June 2011, GenOn Northeast Management Co. agreed to pay $5 million to settle a 2007 lawsuit alleging its discharges of potentially toxic heavy metals helped pollute a river and violated its permits thousands of times. The plant sits on the Conemaugh River, about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Since at least 2005, the plant violated the federal Clean Water Act "practically every day" by discharging excessive amounts of aluminum, boron, iron, manganese and selenium in the approximately 2 million gallons of water it dumped into the Conemaugh each day, according to PennEnvironment and the Sierra Club, the environmental advocacy groups that filed lawsuit. Some of the metals are toxic, and can harm aquatic life in a river already damaged by acid mine drainage from coal mines, the environmental groups say.

The $3.75 million portion of the settlement is the largest penalty in Pennsylvania history against a water polluter under the citizen enforcement provision of the federal Clean Water Act. Of that, $3.5 million is would help support environmental cleanups in the Conemaugh River watershed, while $250,000 is a civil penalty. GenOn also must pay $1.25 million for the groups' legal expenses.[3]

Proposed Conemaugh mine

There is a proposal to mine 49 acres of a farm in Conemaugh Township. The Dovey family has asked the planning commission to rezone a portion of their 400-acre property to allow PBS Coals Inc. to begin strip mining. More than 300 residents turned out at a meeting in April 2011 in the Conemaugh Township fire hall to give their views. The property, which is located near Carpenters Park, is now zoned for single and multiple family residential, and the family is seeking a change to rural residential, which would allow PBS to bring the application process in summer 2011. If approved, work is expected to begin in the fall of 2012 and be completed in two years. The company plans to take out 10,000 tons of coal each month. Trucks will carry the coal along Miller Picking Road to Route 403, to Route 219 and Route 30 to a coal preparation plant in Central City. About 10 percent of the coal will be for domestic use; the rest will be shipped overseas for the steel industry.[4]

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  2. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  3. Marc Levy, "$5M settlement reached in Pa. coal plant pollution" AP, June 6, 2011.
  4. Patrick Buchnowski, "Conemaugh Twp. residents sound off on strip mine" The Tribune-Democrat, April 6, 2011.

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