State close to proposing Plant Washington permits

3 02 2009


S. Heather Duncan |

A year after Power4Georgians applied for permits to build and operate a new coal-fired power plant in Washington County, the state Environmental Protection Division is still deliberating.

Originally, EPD officials had said they might have permits ready for public comment by the end of 2008, but it has taken a bit longer. The agency plans to hold a public meeting in Sandersville, probably in March or April, said Thomas Smith, public affairs coordinator for the EPD’s air protection branch.

At the meeting, the EPD would share information with the public about the permit requirements that are being considered before issuing a draft. Once draft permits are created, a public hearing and public comment period would be held before a final decision about permitting the plant.

Power4Georgians, the company behind the project, is a consortium of 10 electric cooperatives that would divvy up the 850 megawatts of power to be produced daily at Plant Washington. The company says it will bring 130 jobs to a county that has lost much of its employment base in recent years as the kaolin industry eroded.

Dean Alford, whose company, Allied Energy Services, is developing Plant Washington, said Power4Georgians has tweaked the design to accommodate EPD comments but has made no major changes.

“EPD is being very thorough, and they’re asking all the right questions,” he said. “We hope the public meeting will be in the near future.”

POWER4Georgians needs at least six environmental permits for the plant: an air pollution permit, groundwater and surface water withdrawal permits, a water discharge permit for used water that goes back into the Oconee River, a permit for the storm water running off from the plant, and a permit for storing the solid waste such as gypsum and fly ash generated by the plant.

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EPD: Actually, About That PFOA Testing…

2 02 2009

John Sepulvado | GPB

For ten months, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division publicly said it was testing Northwest Georgia drinking water for a likely carcinogenic chemical. But now, the EPD says it never tested for PFOA in drinking water intakes.

The revelation comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set a drinking water advisory for PFOA.

The chemical is found in high amounts in the Conasauga River, a source of drinking water for Northwest Georgia, including Rome. After a series of critical media stories were aired and published, the EPD announced it would test drinking water intakes for the compound. And for the past ten months, officials confirmed testing would take place.

Now, the project manager, Jeremy Smith, tells GPB there has been “a mix-up,” and that another EPD official misspoke. No further explanation was given. The EPD has no plans to test the drinking water.

The agency is still testing fish pulled from the river for PFOA, and those results are expected by spring.

Power Plant Scrubber Project Planned at Yates

24 11 2008

By Sarah Fay Campbell | The Times-Herald

When it comes to sulfur dioxide pollution, Plant Yates and Plant Wansley are two of the worst.

Both ranked among the top 50 SO2 emitting power plants in the country. Sulfur dioxide is the major pollutant from the burning of coal. It can cause respiratory problems, and can combine with other compounds in the air to make fine particle pollution, as well as acid rain.

The 2007 report by the Environmental Integrity Project listed Plant Yates as number 37 in the country for sulfur dioxide emissions per megawatt, and 42 for total tons of SO2 in 2005. Wansley didn’t make the list for the highest rate of SO2 emissions, but was number 17 in the country for total tons of SO2 in 2005.  The two coal-fired powered plants are only about 10 miles apart, as the crow flies. Considered together, the yearly SO2 emissions from the two plants would rank as number three in the country.

But those emissions are going down tremendously as Georgia Power works to comply with the Georgia Multipollutant Rule and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Interstate Rule.

Plant Wansley’s emissions were nearly cut in half when a desulfurization “scrubber” went online last month. A second scrubber will go online in the summer.

Plant Yates will be getting a few scrubbers, as well. But not for a few more years. The timeline for the installation of scrubbers on units six and seven at Yates is 2010 to 2014. Scrubber construction is a pretty slow process. Work on Wansley’s began in January of 2006.

Yates’ unit one already has a scrubber. In fact, the scrubber on unit one was installed in the 1990s as a prototype experiment. The other four units aren’t scheduled to receive the scrubbers.

Yates will also be getting selective catalytic reduction devices on the two units. SCRs reduce the emissions of nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide together create smog.

The upgrades to Plant Yates should reduce SO2 emissions of those two units from 45,000 tons per year to approximately 2,200 tons per year, said Georgia Power spokesman Jeffrey Wilson. The selective catalytic reduction units should reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from 5,800 tons per year to approximately 1,280 tons.

Together, the scrubbers and SCR units also reduce mercury emissions.

Wansley already has the SCR units.

Read on here.

State is called 1 of ‘dirty dozen’

21 11 2008


— Based on emissions at two of its three coal-fired power plants, Arkansas is among the nation’s “dirty dozen” states when it comes to mercury pollution, says a group founded by a former Environmental Protection Agency official.

Arkansas joins Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina and Wisconsin in having two plants rated among the nation’s 50 biggest mercury emitters, according to the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C.

Texas is at the top of the list with seven coal-fired plants among the top 50, followed by Pennsylvania with five plants and Alabama and Georgia with four each. Ohio, Indiana and North Dakota have three such plants apiece.

September Ends Smog Season

1 10 2008


By Coreen Savitski | Todays MGT

With the end of September comes the end of smog season in metro Atlanta, which has seen worse years for air pollution. As cooler temperatures arrive to clear the skies, air quality experts say pollution controls combined with good weather gave the area one of its easiest-breathing summers in a decade.

Michael Chang, an atmospheric scientist at Georgia Tech, says there has been “some measurable progress.”

This was the third-best year for air quality since 1998, when Georgia began measuring eight-hour periods of ground-level ozone, a key component of smog.

But the standard is rising. The Environmental Protection Agency has new limits on ground-level ozone of 75 parts per billion over eight hours, down from 84 parts per billion.

Washington County suddenly awash in power plant proposals

29 09 2008

Washington County could be poised to become Power Plant Central.

It already is home to two natural gas “peaker plants” that run during periods of high demand, and now two different companies are eyeing three sites for additional plants that would operate year-round.

In January, Power4GeorÂgians applied for permits to build an 850-megawatt coal-fired power plant northeast of Sandersville. This month, Oglethorpe Power announced that two Washington County sites east of Sandersville are in the running to host a 100-megawatt power plant, which would use wood chips for fuel.

If built, the plants would join those constructed in Washington County during the past five years by Progress Energy and Duke Energy Sandersville. They are also close to Georgia Power’s 1,500-megawatt Plant Branch in Putnam County.

Electricity might be “the new kaolin” for Washington County, said Tommy Walker, chairman of the Washington County Commission. The white clay, used in finishing glossy paper and making other products, was once the backbone of the local economy, but hundreds of kaolin jobs have disappeared in the past decade. Most recently, Imerys eliminated 50 jobs, Walker said.

“I’m pro-business, and I don’t think the (Environmental Protection Agency) or the state would allow us to have anything that would hurt us,” Walker said. “We want healthy industries. But certainly we need jobs.”

Oglethorpe Power estimates that the biomass plants would employ about 40 people each, which would mostly replace the recent jobs lost from Imerys, Walker noted.

While Plant Washington would be fueled by coal, which has faced broad opposition in recent years for its pollution, the Oglethorpe Power project is meant to broaden the company’s “green power” base.

Both Oglethorpe and Power4Georgians are companies made up of a conglomerate of energy cooperatives from around the state.

Oglethorpe is choosing among five sites to build two or three plants, which would be fueled by woody debris called biomass. Waste wood from logging, particle board plants and the construction industry will be burned to create steam for power. The plants will be designed to allow for mixing in other types of biomass, such as pecan hulls and peanut shells.

Read on here.

Group Says Clean Air Standards Will Cut Summertime Smog Pollution, Protect Kids’ Health

4 09 2008
WASHINGTON, Sept 04, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today took action to cut pollution from a major source of summertime smog and to protect human health by finalizing clean air standards for nonroad gasoline engines. These include smaller gasoline engines that power lawn equipment and personal marine watercraft.
“Cleaner lawn mowers means less summertime smog and healthier air for millions of kids,” said Environmental Defense Fund Deputy General Counsel Vickie Patton. “These new clean air standards will reduce dangerous smog pollution from high-emitting gasoline engines while helping to cut costs at the gas pump.”  EPA’s new standards will protect human health through a combination of limits on the evaporative pollution from gas tanks and emission standards that require cleaner engines.
The new standards will be phased in beginning in 2010, depending on engine type, and will annually cut smog-forming volatile organic compounds by 600,000 tons and smog-forming oxides of nitrogen by 150,000 tons when fully implemented.
These gasoline-powered engines release up to 25 percent of the gasoline unburned in their exhaust, so cleaner emission standards also help save fuel costs at the pump.
Read on here.