Joliet 29 Generating Station
Citizen groups and EPA to file suit against Midwest Generation
In July 2009, five groups of environmental and public health advocates announced their intent to file a Clean Air Act lawsuit against Edison International subsidiary Midwest Generation. The groups say Midwest's six Illinois power plants are decades old and do not have the appropriate pollution controls according to EPA standards. Specifically, the lawsuit will focus on opacity violations, a measurement of the light blocked by particulate matter from smokestacks at Midwest's Joliet, Crawford, Fisk, Powerton, Waukegan, and Will County stations.
The concerned groups include Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, and Sierra Club. The six power plants in question are located in working class and minority neighborhoods, raising concerns about environmental justice. The groups expect to file suit in 60 days, unless Midwest Generation comes into compliance or stops operating, or unless the EPA takes other measures. Shannon Fisk, an attorney for NRDC, described Midwest's Fisk and Crawford plants as, "two dinosaurs in the middle of a large city. They should have cleaned up decades ago. Running those plants is inexpensive for the company, but it's very expensive for public health."
Midwest spokesman Doug MacFarlan said the company is being targeted unfairly, and that Midwest's plants release less particulate matter than most. He also said the company had responded to local complaints by reducing both the amount of coal piled up at Crawford and the dust that blows off barges transporting its coal. "We really believe we have demonstrated environmental responsibility at those plants," McFarlan said. In 2006, Midwest made an agreement with the state of Illinois to reduce emissions at its coal plants. The company has installed mercury controls, but has not decided whether to install scrubbers or shut the plants down. The company has until 2015 to install scrubbers at its Fisk plant and until 2018 at its Crawford plant.
On August 28, 2009, less than a month after the lawsuit was filed, the EPA, Department of Justice, and state of Illinois announced that they would also be filing suit against Midwest Generation for illegal emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide.
- Owner: Midwest Generation EME LLC
- Parent Company: Edison International
- Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,320 MW
- Units and In-Service Dates: 660 MW (1965), 660 MW (1966)
- Location: 1800 Channahon Rd., Joliet, IL 60436
- GPS Coordinates: 41.495703, -88.130534
- Coal Consumption:
- Coal Source: North Antelope Rochelle Mine, Belle Ayr Mine
- Number of Employees:
- 2006 CO2 Emissions: 6,450,657 tons
- 2006 SO2 Emissions: 14,360 tons
- 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
- 2006 NOx Emissions: 3,486 tons
- 2005 Mercury Emissions: 347 lb.
Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Joliet 29
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. 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.
Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Joliet 29 Generating Station
|Type of Impact||Annual Incidence||Valuation|
|Asthma ER visits||63||$23,000|
Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed March 2011
Joliet coal ash contaminants exceed state health levels
A 2011 report by Prairie Rivers and the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), "Illinois at Risk: Lax safeguards and no enforcement endanger the water, air & lives of residents near coal ash dumps" found that Illinois has the second highest number of contaminated coal ash dump sites in the United States. The report evaluates data from groundwater sampling conducted by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) at coal ash disposal sites in 2010. IEPA found exceedances of health standards for coal ash contaminants in groundwater at all 22 sites evaluated. Prairie Rivers and IEP said two-thirds of the impoundments don't have groundwater monitoring and don't have liners, which keep contaminants from leaching out of the impoundments. And dams holding the impoundments at most of the 83 sites have no permits and have not been inspected for safety or stability by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The report focuses on the specific problems at 10 of the 22 coal waste sites: the Vermilion Power Station, the Joliet 9 Generating Station and Joliet 29 Generating Station, the now retired Ameren Energy Venice Power Station in Madison and St. Clair counties, coal ash generated by the Bunge dry corn mill in Vermilion County, the Hutsonville Power Station, the Crown 3 Mine, the Industry Mine, the Gateway Mine, and the coal mine reclamation Murdock site by Alpena Vision Resources in Douglas County.
Prairie Rivers and the EIP said the U.S. EPA should implement comprehensive coal ash regulations that would regulate coal ash as a special waste with federal standards that all states would have to follow, like requiring liners at disposal sites, covers, monitoring, cleanup standards and the phase out of ash ponds. According to the IEPA's ash impoundment strategy progress report in February 2010, the agency now requires new ash ponds to have liners, and the agency supports the U.S. EPA's initiative for stricter controls on coal ash.
The 2011 report, "State of Failure: How States Fail to Protect Our Health and Drinking Water from Toxic Coal Ash" by Earthjustice and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, looked at EPA data and found that state regulations are often inadequate for protecting public health. The report noted that Illinois ranked first in the number of coal ash ponds with 83, yet only about a third of the ponds are lined or monitored.
Articles and Resources
- ↑ Terry Bibo, "Illinois coal plants are being threatened with lawsuit," Journal Star, July 29, 2009.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Kari Lydersen, "'The Clunkers of the Power-Plant World': Old Coal-Fired Facilities Could Escape New Rules," Washington Post, August 17, 2009.
- ↑ Henry Henderson, "You're Not the King of Me: Midwest Gen Runs Afoul of the Clean Air Act," Huffington Post, August 29, 2009.
- ↑ "EIA 423 and Schedule 2 of EIA-923," EIA 923 Schedules 2, 2011.
- ↑ "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
- ↑ "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Jeff Stant and Traci Barkley, "Illinois at Risk: Lax safeguards and no enforcement endanger the water, air & lives of residents near coal ash dumps" Prairie Rivers and Environmental Integrity Project report, August 17, 2011.
- ↑ Tracy Moss, "EPA says it's monitoring coal ash sites" The News-Gazette, Aug. 19, 2011.
- Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed Jan. 2009.
- Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
- Facility Registry System, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accessed Jan. 2009.
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Existing U.S. Coal Plants
- Illinois and coal
- Edison International
- United States and coal
- Global warming
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