September 18, 2009

Update on Wise County VA coal plant

The VA Department of Environmental Quality issued a new permit for the coal-fired power plant in far Southwest Virginia plant on September 2, after a Richmond Circuit Court judge had set aside the original permit in August because the old permit did not sufficiently limit mercury pollution.

The new permit includes a 4.45-pound-per-year mercury limit that was in the previous permit. But the new permit removes a provision that allowed that limit to be loosened if the plant had trouble meeting it. It is now a FIRM limit on mercury--the most stringent mercury limit for a coal-fired power plant in the nation. BUT REMEMBER--Only 1/70 teaspoon in a 25 acre lake makes the fish unsafe to eat.

The 585-megawatt plant in Wise County, owned by Dominion Virginia Power, is already under construction and scheduled to begin operating in mid-2012.

Environmentalists challenged the permits for the plant, saying it should have also regulated emissions of carbon dioxide.

FYI: The state Air Pollution Control Board issued the first permits in 2008. But the DEQ director also has the power to issue air-pollution permits.