Sunday, September 23, 2007

Morning News Coverage of Meetings

Proposed coal plant focus of meetings

Saturday, Sep 22, 2007 - 11:21 PM

By Jamie Durant

The Army Corps of Engineers will be holding two public meetings to determine the thoughts of the community on the proposed Santee Cooper coal-burning power plant in Kingsburg.The meetings will offer citizens a chance to express their feelings on the issue for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS is required by the state for Santee Cooper to move forward with the plant. The 600-megawatt coal-fired generation facility, which would be located on a 2,709-acre tract along the Great Pee Dee River, is scheduled to become operational sometime after 2012. Santee Cooper officials said the $998 million facility will bring about 1,400 construction jobs to the area as well as 100 full-time jobs when complete.Nancy Cave, director of the Northcoast office of the Coastal Conservation League, said the meetings are a way for people to tell the Army Corps of Engineers what they want to be studied in the EIS.“It also needs to thoroughly look at the impact of a coal plant, the air impact, the water impact and of course, the impact human health,” Cave said. “It will have impacts of about 8.7 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is the primary gas in global warming. It will emit thousands of tons of smog and soot. It will emit over 300 pounds of mercury annually, and the Great Pee Dee is already an impaired river with a mercury advisory.”Cave was referring to the status of the Great Pee Dee River, saying residents are advised to eat no more than one fish from the river per month, because of the high mercury content in the fish living there.“The question has to be asked, ‘What will this coal plant do to the Great Pee Dee River in regards to mercury pollution?’” she said.Cave said she thinks people must be told the proposed plant will, according to the Coastal Conservation League, have a significant impact on the health of state residents.“I think what is interesting is that more and more people across the state are becoming aware of what coal plants do to our air and water,” she said. “The whole discussion about global warming is becoming such that people all across the country and the world are talking about it.”Cave referred to a proposed coal plant in Georgia that was denied a permit to build a facility and a similar situation in Florida earlier this year.“We have to find alternatives,” she said. “They’re there. One of the alternatives is just to be more efficient.” Laura Varn, spokeswoman for Santee Cooper, said she thinks the meetings will be successful.“I believe that they’ll get some really good info at the scopings as to what should be included in the environmental impact statement,” she said.Despite what the opponents of the power plant say, the need for additional power in South Carolina is a real issue, Varn said.“We are working to meet that power need in two ways,” she said. “One is by building this plant with the best environmental control technology. It will be one of the cleanest power plants in the country. We are aggressively pursuing additional conservation and energy efficiency measures as a way to help meet the state’s growing energy needs.”Varn said the numbers give a greater understanding of the reductions Santee Cooper is planning to make in the emissions from the proposed plant.“(The environmental control technology) will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 97 percent,” she said. “It will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 percent. And it will reduce mercury by between 85 and 90 percent.”The amount of mercury emissions reduced is key because that seems to be a top concern of environmentalists in the area, Varn said. The amount of mercury that will be released won’t be measurable in tons, but rather in pounds.“It’s the equivalent to the size of a pinhead on a basketball court,” she said. “We meet and exceed all of the state and federal requirements as it is related to mercury and other emissions requirements that are protective of human health and the environment.”


Denny said...

Santee Cooper's spokes-hack, Laura Varn, irresponsibly states that the Pee Dee Plant will emit mercury in pounds rather than tons as if we should rise up in a round of applause.

It's too bad for the people of South Carolina that, according to the EPA, it is not safe to ingest LESS THAN a BILLIONTH of a pound of Mercury a day.

The Pee Dee plant will release just under a pound of mercury PER DAY into our states air and water.

Once mercury gets into our waterways , concentrations in fish can be as much as ONE MILLION times stronger than the surrounding water.

If only pounds of mercury weren't deadly, then I suppose we could take some solace from Ms. Varn's pitiful assurances.

Unfortunately, we can't.

Eleanor said...

How can Santee Cooper get away with saying that this new plant they want in Pamplico will be the cleanest in the country?

That is an outrageous comment. The type of coal plant they are trying to build is dirtier than every nuclear, gas, and oil-fired plant in the country.

Its also dirtier than a number of different types of coal plants. Santee Cooper wants to build a "super-critical" coal plant, but "ultra-super-critical" plants are cleaner, "fluidized bed" plants are cleaner, and "integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC)" plants are cleaner.

So their plant isn't even the cleanest coal plant, much less the cleanest plant in the United States.

It scares me to think that these folks, who seem to have little regard for the truth, have been entrusted with providing power to our state.

Anonymous said...

For a front page story about public meetings it is absolutely ridiculous that the whereabouts or times of these meetings were never even mentioned.