Amos Plant

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The Amos Plant is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by American Electric Power near Winfield, West Virginia.

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Appalachian Power Company
  • Parent Company: American Electric Power
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 2,933 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 816 MW (1971), 816 MW (1972), 1,300 MW (1973)
  • Location: 1530 Winfield Road, Winfield, WV 25213
  • GPS Coordinates: 38.4739803, -81.8226314
  • Coal Consumption: 7 million tons
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees: 320

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 15,300,000 tons [1]
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 107,633 tons [2]
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 43,506 tons [3]
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 873 lb. [4]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Amos Plant

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.[5] 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.[6]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Amos Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 87 $630,000,000
Heart attacks 140 $15,000,000
Asthma attacks 1,400 $71,000
Hospital admissions 65 $1,500,000
Chronic bronchitis 52 $23,000,000
Asthma ER visits 70 $26,000

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

Coal Waste Site

Toxic Waste Data [7]

  • Arsenic Waste: 137,438 pounds
    • Air Release: 735 pounds
    • Water Release (Little Scary Creek/Kanawha River): 268 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 136,435 pounds
  • Chromium Waste: 315,121 pounds
    • Air Release: 1,250 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 193,845 pounds
  • Dioxin Waste: 2.3 grams
    • Air Release: 2.3 grams
  • Lead Waste: 110,654 pounds
    • Air Release: 683 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Surface Impoundment): 109,887 pounds
  • Nickel Waste: 214,405 pounds
    • Air Release: 1,550 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill/Sludge): 212,205 pounds
  • Selenium Waste: 44,835 pounds
    • Air Release: 25,005 pounds
    • Water Release (Little Scary Creek/Kanawha River): 621 pounds

Accidents and Negligence

  • January, 1987 [8]
    • A worker was crushed between a railroad car containing a shipment of coal and a steel retaining wall.
  • October 31, 2003 [9]
    • A contracted worker fell to his death while installing pollution control equipment. According to OSHA, the metal decking he was walking on was not secured properly.
  • May 18, 2004 [10]
    • An employee working at the Amos plant died when he fell 25 feet down a vertical duct while cleaning them.
    • OSHA fined the AEP contractor $6,300 for failing to adequately train employees on avoiding safety hazards while at work.
  • January 25, 2008 [11]
    • Mid-day, residents of the Kanawha Valley discovered a “blue haze” that smelled strongly of chlorine settling over the valley. Once the DEP got word, they called around to area plants to make sure there wasn’t a gas leak. All reports came back normal.
    • Helicopter flyovers found the haze to be most concentrated over the John Amos plant, though there was nothing internally malfunctioning.
    • A particularly thick temperature inversion that day (cold air settling below warm air instead of the other way around) caused air pollutants to be trapped below the warm air, which functions as a lid.
    • However, this incident spurred the DEP to begin examining the John Amos plant and how the plant intends to deal with their extreme sulfuric acid emissions, caused by installing selective catalytic reduction united (SCRs) to control and reduce their nitrogen oxide emissions. Sulfur dioxide (which can potentially become sulfuric acid) is one of the drawbacks to the SCRs.
    • The residents of the valley claimed they smelled chlorine, which confused those involved in the investigation. A report released in May determined that the strange weather conditions turned the sulfuric acid emissions into an aerosol which created the smoky blue look.
  • July 30, 2008 [12]
    • At least the fourth “blue haze” incident since January 25 was reported. It was a more widespread incident and not as easily linked to the Amos plant.
  • September 23, 2008 [13]
    • A man fell from a ladder or scaffolding while working with a large refurbishment crew near the precipitators that remove the fly ash from the generators. The crew was installing a new scrubber into the unit.

Litigation and Controversy

  • February 17, 2008 [14]
    • The Department of Environmental Protection discovered that the AEP estimates on sulfuric acid emissions could have been underwritten by as much as four times the actual emissions rate.
    • The DEP is investigating whether this increase in emission rate might come from AEP’s efforts to install equipment that controls for other emissions.
    • Currently, there are no limits on sulfuric acid emissions, even though repeated exposure to concentrated amounts can cause respiratory problems, such as asthma in children, as well as burn the mouth, eyes, and throat.
    • AEP claims that they are merely discovering new and better ways to report accurate numbers to the DEP. They do not believe that these are increasing numbers, simply more accurate.
  • January 9, 2009 [15]
    • A press release by the Department of Environmental Protection showed that a review of fly ash dam inspection records show that most dams in West Virginia have not been visited by a federal inspector in five years or more, some have not been visited in 20.
    • While 14 of West Virginia’s 16 coal dams have been internally inspected by the company’s engineers in the last two years, only 2 of the 16 were state inspected in the last two years, and six have not been inspected by the state in over a decade.
    • The John Amos plant was included in this list, as it has not been inspected by the state in at least 10 years.
  • February 10, 2009 [16]
    • West Virginia residents are beginning to strongly oppose a proposed American Electric Power transmission line to bring more power to New Jersey, where they pay more per kilowatt than in West Virginia.
    • Residents are opposing the line not only because a local company is trying to make extra money by outsourcing the in-state produced energy and sending it out, but because many properties will be affected by the towers necessary to build such a line.

American Electric Power Service Corporation Settlement

On October 9, 2007 the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. EPA announced that American Electric Power (AEP) agreed to pay a $15 million fine and spend $60 million on projects to mitigate the adverse effects of its past emissions. Of that $60 million, the EPA announced that it would be split 60%/40% between the United States and the various settling states. The company agreed to cut 813,000 tons of air pollutants each year at an cost of more than $4.6 billion.

It was the largest environmental enforcement settlement in U.S. history. AEP will install pollution control equipment to reduce and capture sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx). The settlement resolved a lawsuit filed against AEP in 1999 for violating the New Source Review of the Clean Air Act. A coalition of eight states and 13 citizen and environmental groups joined the U.S. government in the settlement. A total of 16 plants located in five states were impacted.

“The AEP settlement will have an unprecedented impact on air quality in the eastern United States,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement is a major victory for the environment and public health, and it demonstrates our continued commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Clean Air Act.”[17]

American Electric installed three "scrubbers" at its largest power-generating unit at its John Amos Plant in West Virginia. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $1.04 billion.[18]

In Feb. 2011, Appalachian Power said the scrubber upgrades were complete.[19]

Amos ranked 41st 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.[20] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[21]

Amos Plant ranked number 41 on the list, with 864,024 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[20]

"High Hazard" Surface Impoundment

Amos Plant's Fly Ash Pond surface impoundment is on the EPA's official June 2009 list of Coal Combustion Residue (CCR) Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not assess of the likelihood of such an event.[22]

Articles and Resources

References

  1. Carbon Monitoring for Action: John Amos Plant Data. Center for Global Democracy.
  2. Criteria Air Pollutants: John Amos Plant Data. Environmental Protection Agency.
  3. Criteria Air Pollutants: John Amos Plant Data. Environmental Protection Agency.
  4. Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic Release Inventory: John Amos Plant Data. Right to Know Network.
  5. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  6. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  7. Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic Release Inventory: John Amos Plant Data. Right to Know Network.
  8. American Electric Power v. Honorable Lyne Ranson. Supreme Court of West Virginia (September, 1993).
  9. Victim of John Amos Accident Indentified as South Carolina Man. Charleston Daily Mail (September 23, 2008).
  10. Victim of John Amos Accident Indentified as South Carolina Man. Charleston Daily Mail (September 23, 2008).
  11. This Time, Blue Haze More Widespread. Charleston Gazette (July 30, 2008).
  12. This Time, Blue Haze More Widespread. Charleston Gazette (July 30, 2008).
  13. Worker Dies After Fall at AEP's John Amos Plant. West Virginia Gazette (September 23, 2008).
  14. Ken Ward, Jr. (February 17, 2008). Amos Plant Emitting More Than Reported. Charleston Gazette.
  15. Ken Ward, Jr. (January 9, 2009). West Virginia Coal-Ash Dams Seldom Inspected, DEP Says. Charleston Gazette.
  16. Naomi Smoot (February 10, 2009). P.A.T.H Hearing Draws Crowd. The Journal.
  17. "American Electric Power Service Corporation Information Sheet," U.S. EPA, accessed November 5, 2009
  18. "American Electric fires up new scrubber at John Amos plant," George Hohmann, Charleston Daily Mail, accessed November 5, 2009
  19. "Appalachian Power completes $2B in environmental investments" AP Press, Feb. 19, 2011.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  21. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  22. Coal waste

External Resources

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