FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2013
Emily Rosenwasser, Emily.Rosenwasser@sierraclub.org, 312-251-1680 x119
Kady McFadden, Kady.McFadden@sierraclub.org, 630-747-0915
New Pollution Study Shows Peoria Area Residents at Risk from Harmful E.D. Edwards Coal Plant Emissions
Potential New Owners Dynegy Asking For A Five Year Delay in Installing Pollution Controls, Community Demanding a Plan to Clean Up Pollution Now
View Map Outlining Pollution from the E.D. Edwards Coal Plant:
HIGH RESOLUTION, LOW RESOLUTION
PEORIA – Dangerous sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution from the E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant threatens the health of thousands of Peoria and Tazewell County residents according to a new air modeling study released today by the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance. According to the modeling study, the E.D. Edwards coal plant is allowed to emit toxic SO2 pollution at up to 7.5 times above the limit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says is required to protect public health.
The decades-old E.D. Edwards coal plant is currently operated by Ameren, but the coal plant is part of Ameren’s no-cash sale of five Illinois coal plants to Texas-based energy company Dynegy. The coal plant currently does not have any modern and widely available sulfur dioxide pollution controls installed.
“Pollution from the E.D. Edwards coal plant is making our community sick,” said Don Jackson, President of NAACP Peoria Branch. “The map clearly shows that the Edwards plant is allowed to pollute so heavily that it affects residents all the way from Morton to Chillicothe. It is time to put Peoria on a path to cleaner air and water by setting a timeline to clean up or phase out the outdated Edwards coal plant.”
Sulfur dioxide, or SO2, is a harmful air pollutant. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits on how much can accumulate in the air we breathe. SO2 triggers asthma attacks, airway constriction and other respiratory problems.
“Exposure to sulfur dioxide pollution for even five minutes can make it hard for a person to breathe and high levels of exposure to sulfur dioxide can send people to the emergency room,” said Brian Urbaszewski of Respiratory Health Association. “This pollutant is especially dangerous for the 39,000 people who suffer from asthma in Peoria and Tazewell counties.”
With Dynegy poised to take over the plant from Ameren, area residents are concerned that the company lacks a plan to clean up the plant. The Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) is currently reviewing Dynegy’s request for permission to delay installing vital and widely-available pollution control technology until 2020.
“It is outrageous that the E.D. Edwards coal plant is permitted to pollute Peoria at rates of more than seven times the safe limit” said Tracy Fox of Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste. “And it’s even more outrageous that Dynegy wants to step in and ask to delay installing life-saving pollution controls until 2020. Our community is ready to phase out dependence on coal and invest in our future by securing clean air and a better Peoria.”
Coal-fired power plants like the E.D. Edwards plant are the largest source of SO2 pollution in Peoria and Tazewell counties, as well as nationwide. Old, dirty and uncontrolled plants like the Edwards plant threaten public health by emitting concentrations of pollution in excess of what the EPA says is safe. The coal plant’s uncontrolled emissions were analyzed in light of the new, more stringent EPA standard for SO2 that reflects the up-to-date scientific consensus on what levels of SO2 present a risk to nearby communities.
Wingra Engineering, S.C. completed the air quality study, which used an EPA-approved air quality dispersion model and publicly available data to evaluate pollution from the Edwards coal plant.
The engineer ran the model following EPA procedures for evaluating the impacts of power plant SO2 emissions. This does not reflect the E.D. Edwards plant’s current air permit’s extremely lenient 24-hour averaging time for SO2, which allows hourly emissions to spike.
“Corporate refusals to invest in cleaning up the Edwards coal plant just underscore that now is the time to put the Edwards plant on a path toward retirement,” said Kady McFadden, Field Organizer with the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign in Peoria. “The community deserves clean air, clean water and a safer place to recreate and raise children. Ameren and Dynegy must be upfront with the community and establish a clear plan moving forward for the Edwards coal plant that includes a reasonable phase-out date, ensures a just transition for the workers and a plan to remediate the site.”
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA establishes National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants such as sulfur dioxide that harm public health. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to revisit ambient standards for pollutants such as sulfur dioxide every five years to ensure the levels keep up with the best science regarding the threat of air pollution to public health. In June 2010, the EPA finalized a standard for sulfur dioxide setting a ceiling for ambient concentrations of the pollutant on a 1-hour basis to protect against short-term spikes in sulfur dioxide pollution, which the EPA found can have an adverse effect on at-risk populations such as children and the elderly during spikes in pollution in intervals as short as 5 minutes. For more information visit http://www.epa.gov/airquality/sulfurdioxide/.
To view a fact sheet on the sulfur dioxide (SO2) air modeling study and pollution in the Peoria area, please visit: sc.org/1cgPZTQ.
The Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance (CIHCA) is a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to creating a sustainable and healthy community for Central Illinois. CIHCA is concerned about the decades of air and water pollution created by the Edwards coal plant south of Bartonville. CIHCA is working to retire the Edwards plant and transition Central Illinois to a cleaner energy economy by reducing energy use, and moving to renewables such as wind and solar, and requiring a just transition for workers.