Coal-fired plant opposed

Published 7:36 pm Friday, August 13, 2010

The director of the Flint Riverkeeper told a Decatur County audience Thursday that a proposed coal plant in Early County would have dire consequences if built.

Gordon Rogers, the executive director of the Flint Riverkeeper, told about 43 people attending the presentation at the Cloud Livestock facility that the law is not being applied equally for the proposed Early County plant.

“I’m not here to discuss the points,” Rogers said. “I’m here to tell you the problems with this.”

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In essence, Rogers said several environmental organizations question the permit the Longleaf Energy Station proposed in Early County was given and the circumstances in which that permit has continued.

The Longleaf plant would be a 1,200 megawatt coal-fired plant.

The state Environmental Protection Division is reviewing renewing Longleaf’s permit. If it is renewed, Rogers said the Flint Riverkeeper will file a lawsuit because of several concerns.

The Riverkeeper claim the existing permit categorizes Longleaf as minor source of hazardous air pollutants, and the EPD also extended the construction deadline. However, Rogers said air permits are good for only 18 months and the state issued the extension without considering whether the technology on the plant is updated.

Rogers said two other proposed coal-fired plants in Georgia are in Washington and Ben Hill counties. Both are lesser 850-megawatt plants, yet both of those were permitted as major sources of hazardous air pollutants, he said.

Rogers than made comparisons of the Longleaf facility and the proposed plant in Washington County in the amount of pollutants based that are to be emitted annually over 50 years.

For sulfur dioxide, Longleaf would emit 5,647 tons annually; Plant Washington would emit 1,890 tons, Rogers said.

For nitrogen oxides, Longleaf would emit 2,689 tons annually, and Plant Washington would emit 1,345 tons annually.

For carbon dioxide, the Longleaf plant would emit 9 million tons annually, and Plant Washington would emit 6-7 million tons.

And finally, for mercury, Longleaf would emit 88 pounds annually, and Plant Washington would emit 63 pounds, Rogers told the audience.

There were other pollutants listed by Rogers that showed the Longleaf plant—currently permitted as a minor source of pollution—would potentially be a larger source of pollution compared to Plant Washington—currently permitted as a major source of pollution.

Rogers said all these pollutants would affect the residents of Decatur County and ultimately the Flint River, Lake Seminole and the bodies of water here.

Despite the $2 billion in tax base the plant would create for Early County, Rogers said the promise of jobs is questionable because few of the 1,500 to 2,000 construction jobs and few of the 150 permanent jobs would actually come from within Early County’s existing job pool.

Presentation (2MB PDF)