TENASKA Sweetwater Coal Plant is Hazard to Abilene

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By Joe Starkey | February 1, 2009

The nearly abandoned Cheshire, Ohio is a stark reminder of the economic power of the coal-burning industry. In 2001, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reviewed environmental data provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency around AEP?s General John M. Gavin plant and concluded that “sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid levels in and around Cheshire pose a public health hazard to some residents, particularly residents with asthma.” Under threat of a lawsuit, AEP bought nearly all the private property in {{more}}the village for about $20 million in 2002, a price that gave most residents a deal well above property values. Anybody watch the plume of smoke from the Jones County fire this week? If this coal plant is approved – that plume will be from the TENASKA Sweetwater coal plant. Since this is “clean coal” the permit they have applied for will allow them to put over 100 pounds of mercury directly into the air. This mercury emission would end up settling into the waterways of Nolan, Fisher, Jones and TAYLOR counties. Just 1/70th of a teaspoon deposited on a 25-acre [10-hectare] lake can make the fish unsafe to eat. We are in the downwind hazard of this plant anytime the wind blows west to east as it did for the fire. Most visible plumes that I have observed in my 6 years living in Abilene have been from west to east. Mercury accumulates in the body and never leaves. This plant is proposed to have a 50 year life. They sit next to Stink Creek and Bitter Creek which lead to Sweetwater Creek to the Brazos and Fort Phantom Lake. One person said they believe TENASKA is in negotiation with Fort Phantom Lake water board to get ¼ of the one to ten millions of gallons of water they will require per day. More water from that lake means higher water bills for Abilene. The Texas Water Board is already predicting that this area will only have 77% of the water needed by 2010.TENASKA keeps pointing to CO2 capture that would make them greener. There is NOTHING in their permit which requires this. If they actually do this instead of emitting the CO2 directly to the air, it will cost them as high as $315,000,000.00 a year. They have stated that if they cannot sell the CO2 down a pipeline to the Midland area that they would sequester it under their own property. Keep in mind that a cloud of escaped CO2 replacing the air you breath, will kill you quickly and certainly by denying your body the oxygen it must have. Entire African villages have been wiped out by CO2 released from volcanic lakes… and TENASKA cannot guarantee that this will not happen here.For the rest of the story and comments go to www.westtexastribune.com