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Winyah Generating Station

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Winyah Generating Station is a 1,260 megawatt coal-fired power station owned and operated by Santee Cooper near Georgetown, South Carolina.[1] The first 315MW unit of the station was commissioned in 1975 and the fourth in 1981.[2] [3] On its website Santee Cooper states that the first unit was refurbished in 1995 and that coal for the plant is sourced from Kentucky.[2]

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South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper)

On March 16, 2002 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice and the State of South Carolina announced a New Source Review requirements settlement with the South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper) to address alleged Clean Air Act violations at several of its coal-fired power plants in the state.

Under the settlement agreement Santee Cooper will spend approximately $400 million until 2012 to install pollution control devices to decrease emissions at its Winyah Generating Station, Cross Generating Station, Jefferies Generating Station and Grainger Generating Station. In April of 2002 the U.S. Public Research Interest Group released a study stating that Santee's Winyah plant had one of the nation's most significant increases in pollution between 1995 and 2000.[4]

The EPA estimates that 70,000 tons of SO2 (contributor to acid rain and cardiovascular disease) and NOx (contributor to ground-level ozone, acid rain and global warming) emissions will be reduced annually from Santee Cooper's four coal-fired plants in South Carolina. In addition the company was forced to pay a $700,000 fine to the State of South Carolina and $1.3 million in civil penalty fines to the federal government. Santee Cooper is also forced to spend at least $4.5 million to finance "environmentally beneficial" projects in the state.[5]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 9,003,336 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 42,709 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 4,695 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 201 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Winyah Generating 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.[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 Winyah Generating Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 16 $120,000,000
Heart attacks 24 $2,600,000
Asthma attacks 270 $14,000
Hospital admissions 12 $280,000
Chronic bronchitis 10 $4,400,000
Asthma ER visits 15 $6,000

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

Ash dams

In a letter Santee Cooper's Vice President Generation, Phil Pearce, stated that:[8]

  • Ash Pond A was constructed in 1975 and is used for fly ash, bottom ash and boiler slag. The 24.5 foot high dam has a surface area of 88 acres and, as of March 18, 2009 stored 726 acre feet of waste. The dam has a capacity of 807 acre feet;
  • Ash Pond B was constructed in 1975 and is used for fly ash, bottom ash and boiler slag. The 31 foot high dam has a surface area of 63 acres and, as of March 18, 2009 stored 322 acre feet of waste. The dam has a capacity of 537 acre feet;
  • South Ash Pond was constructed in 1980 and is used for fly ash, bottom ash and boiler slag. The 22 foot high dam has a surface area of 61 acres and, as of March 18, 2009 stored 565 acre feet of waste. The dam has a capacity of 1129 acre feet;
  • West Ash Pond was constructed in 1980 and is used for fly ash, bottom ash and boiler slag. The 32 foot high dam has a surface area of 62 acres and, as of March 18, 2009 stored 1060 acre feet of waste. The dam has a capacity of 1178 acre feet;
  • Unit 2 Slurry Pond was constructed in 1977 and is used for "fuel gas emission control residuals"; The 12 foot high dam has a surface area of 34 acres and, as of March 18, 2009 stored 270 acre feet of waste. The dam has a capacity of 416 acre feet;
  • Unite 3 & 4 Slurry Pond was constructed in 1980 and is used for "fuel gas emission control residuals". The 30 foot high dam has a surface area of 100 acres and, as of March 18, 2009 stored 1190 acre feet of waste. The dam has a capacity of 1700 acre feet.

Pearce stated that the ponds are not regulated either by state or federal agencies though the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) "performs periodic NPDES inspections and because these Units are permitted industrial treatment facilities for station wastewater, the SCDHEC inspection incorporates a review of the operation of the bottom ash ponds and the permitted discharge."[8]

Pearce also reported that "on February 14,2008, there was a release of wastewater from Slurry Pond 3 & 4 due to a failure of a seal on a drain pipe remaining in the dike wall from the original construction. The water was sampled and permit limits were not exceeded. There were no other off-site impacts. The release was reported to SC Department of Health and Environmental Control verbally on February 14,2008 and in a letter on February 21,2008. The pipe was repaired under the supervision of a Professional Engineer in Santee Cooper's Construction Services Department."[8]

Opposing federal environmental regulations on greenhouse gases and other pollution

In February 2011, Santee Cooper's CEO and President, Lonnie Carter appeared before the U.S. House of Representatives House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Water to oppose moves by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases (GHG)under the Clean Air Act. Appearing before the committee Carter boasted that Santee Cooper has "197 megawatts of renewable generation already online or under contract." However, he made no mention of the utility's heavy relianace on coal-fired power. In his testimony Carter complained about the potential impact of the EPA's move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through "new source performance standards".[9]

"There is currently no off-the-shelf technology available to address GHG emissions at a commercial scale - making it different in like and kind from other emissions regulated under the Clean Air Act. New construction projects will likely be significantly delayed because there is no clarity in how to address GHG in PSD [ed: Prevention of Significant Deterioration] permits. EPA's failure to provide the necessary tools, information, and direction will lead to permits being delayed, and complex legal challenges to permits. The Clean Air Act was simply not designed to address GHG emissions. The policy to limit GHG emissions should be set by Congress. Continuing on a path toward regulating GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act could stifle the already slow permitting process, raise costs, and limit economic development and industrial growth around our country at a time when we need jobs the most," he stated.[9]

Carter also flagged the utility's opposition to possible EPA moves to regulate "new rules over the next few years, including coal ash, maximum available control technology standards, cooling water intake rules, air quality standards for ozone, lead and particulate matter". Regulation these aspects of power generation industry, he claimed, they they "individually, they represent sizeable cost impacts. Together, they could be enough to significantly curtail economic development and may force the premature closing of low cost, reliable power facilities that keep our nation running."[9]

Plant Data

  • Owner: South Carolina Public Service Authority
  • Parent Company: Santee Cooper
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity:1,260 MW[1]
  • Power output: Santee Cooper states that the plant has a capacity of 1,155MW.[10]
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 315 MW (1975), 315 MW (1977), 315 MW (1980), 315 MW (1981)
  • Location: 661 Steam Plant Dr., Georgetown, SC 29440
  • GPS Coordinates: 33.330278, -79.3575
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 U.S. Energy Information Administration, "GeneratorY09", Form EIA-860 Annual Electric Generator Report, U.S. Department of Energy, 2009. (This is a spreadsheet within a zipped data file).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Santee Cooper, "Santee Cooper is South Carolina's PowerHouse", Santee Cooper brochure, February 2004.
  3. Santee Cooper, "Finger Tip Facts 2009", Santee Cooper website, accessed March 2011.
  4. "Winyah, S.C., Power Plant Saw Pollution Levels Increase Significantly" Kevin Wiatrowsk, The Sun News, April 5, 2002.
  5. "South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper) Clean Air Act Civil Settlement South Carolina," U.S. EPA, March 16, 2002
  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
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Phil Pearce, Santee Cooper's Vice President Generation, "Response to United States Environmental Protection Agency Request for Information dated March 9,2009: Cross Generating Station", March 25, 2009.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Lonnie Carter, Oral Testimony of Santee Cooper President & CEO Lonnie Carter Before the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee, February 9, 2011.
  10. Santee Cooper, "Finger Tip Facts 2009", Santee Cooper website, accessed March 2011, pages 10-12.

Related SourceWatch Articles

External resources

Santee Cooper on Fly ash

External Articles

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