Will County Generating Station

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Will County Electric Generating Station is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Edison International subsidiary Midwest Generation near Romeoville, Illinois.

As part of a 2006 agreement with the state of Illinois, Midwest Generation said it plans to shut down the three smallest generating units in its fleet -- two units at the Will County Generating Station in Romeoville and one at its Waukegan Generating Station -- between the end of 2007 and the end of 2010. The company also has committed that its smallest plant -- the single-unit Fisk Generating Station in Chicago -- will either have additional controls for sulfur dioxide emissions or be shut down by the end of 2015. The same agreement to shut down or install additional controls applies to the Waukegan Generating Station by the end of 2014 and to the Crawford Generating Station in Chicago by the end of 2018.[1]

According to the 2010 Annual Report for Edison Electric, under an Illinois rule called the Combined Pollutant Standard (CPS), aimed at reducing mercury, NOx and SO2 at Illinois plants, Will County Station Units 1 and 2 were retired in 2010 and Waukegan Generating Station Unit 6 was retired in 2007.[2]

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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 Will County, Crawford, Fisk, Joliet, Powerton, and Waukegan 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.[3] 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."[4]

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.[4]

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.[5]

Plant Data

  • Owner: Midwest Generation EME LLC
  • Parent Company: Edison International
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,269 MW
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 184 MW (built 1955; retired 2010), 188 MW (built 1955; retired 2010), 299 MW (1957), 598 MW (1963)
  • Location: 529 East Romeo Rd., Romeoville, IL 60441
  • GPS Coordinates: 41.6348, -88.0632
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 6,177,903 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 17,306 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 6,324 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 261 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Will County

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.[6] 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.[7]

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

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 46 $340,000,000
Heart attacks 72 $7,900,000
Asthma attacks 780 $40,000
Hospital admissions 34 $780,000
Chronic bronchitis 28 $13,000,000
Asthma ER visits 49 $18,000

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


Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. "Midwest Generation, Governor Agree On Long-Range Emissions Reduction Plan" BusinessWire, 2008.
  2. Edison International 2010 Annual Report, page 40
  3. Terry Bibo, "Illinois coal plants are being threatened with lawsuit," Journal Star, July 29, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kari Lydersen, "'The Clunkers of the Power-Plant World': Old Coal-Fired Facilities Could Escape New Rules," Washington Post, August 17, 2009.
  5. Henry Henderson, "You're Not the King of Me: Midwest Gen Runs Afoul of the Clean Air Act," Huffington Post, August 29, 2009.
  6. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  7. "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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