Friday, February 15, 2008

Mercury Poses Problems for Duke Energy, Nation's Children

In the wake of the Federal Court's rejection of Bush era Mercury rules, coal plants in the permitting process across the country are likely to hit significant speed bumps. See this article on the financial news website for how this judicial decision might affect Duke Energy's plan to move forward with a new coal plant near Charlotte. Duke's plant recently received a final air permit from the North Carolina Department of the Environment and Natural Resources. The permit must be revised to comply with the law. (Note how much more mercury Santee Cooper's plant, which would be smaller than Duke's, will be permitted to emit: over 130 pounds vs. 40 pounds).

This re-evaluation of how these plants will control their mercury emissions is in the best interest of of the health of everyone in the nation, since Mercury is such a potent neurotoxin. From the autism website,, a 2006 story from the Los Angeles Times reporting on a study linking mercury contamination with autism, here.


Anonymous said...

Come now John. Once again, I'm forced to help with your reading comprehension. Santee Cooper is asking for a permit for TWO units, for a grand total of 1320 MW. I know you know this.

Kim said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Anon. It's actually worse than you think.

Duke is building an 800 MW unit. Not only is it permitted to burn bituminous coal, but also sub-bituminous. Sub-bit releases much more mercury than bituminous coal, which Santee Cooper is proposing to use exclusively.

See page 39 of Duke's Cliffside permit here:

Note the 0.066 lb/GWh limit for sub-bit coal. If you run the numbers (and John, let me know if you need me to show my work), Duke is permitted to RELEASE AS MUCH AS 463 POUNDS OF MERCURY EACH YEAR FROM AN 800 MW PLANT!!!

On the other hand, Santee Cooper's permit is for a max of 138 lb/yr from a 1320 MW plant.

I am not sure if John is just determined to lie about Santee Cooper's plant (likely) or just cannot do math (and if that is a problem, he can just hire a consultant with that $7.5 M they raised to fight Santee Cooper).

Let us know if you need more help John!

Kim said...

Hey, John, and while I am on a roll, I appreciate you blowing your own mercury "hot spot" theory out of the water.

The autism study you linked - the study group was San Fran bay children.

The closest coal-fired power plant to San Francisco (or all of Cali, for that matter) is in Nevada or Arizona.

Keep up the good work!

Fed Up said...

Cool Kim,

So as long as the mercury is coming from a coal plant, kids don't have to worry!? Nevermind that Santee Cooper is the #1 source of mercury in our state. The unborn children of South Carolina thank you!

As for your mercury math -- I guess that means you are calling the NC regulators quoted in the linked article liars (you seem to be fond of making that accusation; in any case, it doesn't bode well for our public confidence in your buddies over @ DHEC).

And that wonderful bituminous coal Santee Cooper uses excluseively -- Kim, why don't you tell us where Santee Cooper gets it? Blowing up mountains in Appalachia! (But I'm sure the mountain homes of Santee Cooper's head honchos are far away from the blasting).