Coal Tattoo

A new report released yesterday by the Environmental Integrity Project warns that power plants are “not making a dent” in their emissions of the potent toxic chemical mercury.

There’s a press release online here, and you can read the full report here.

According to the report, more than half of the nation’s 50 worst power plants in terms of mercury emissions increased those emissions between 2007 and 2008, the latest year for which data is available.

Among the other findings:

• Power plant mercury emissions have actually risen since 2000 (the first year this data was reported) in several states, including Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas, and others.

• Six Southern Company plants in Georgia and Alabama are ranked among the top 50 power plant mercury emitters for overall mercury emissions.

• Six American Electric Power (AEP) plants in Texas, Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia are ranked among the top 50 mercury emitters.   AEP’s Gavin Power Plant in Ohio emitted 937 pounds of mercury in 2008, a 115.4 percent increase from 2007. This drastic increase in mercury emissions appears to be due largely to a change in the coal burned at the plant in 2008.

• NRG’s Limestone County, Texas plant emitted 1,251 pounds of mercury in 2008, a 4.55 percent increase over its reported 2007 emissions. NRG is currently constructing a third coal-fired boiler at this plant.

• In terms of pounds of mercury emitted per gigawatt hour, the following companies have three or more power plants on the list:  Ameren (4); Luminant (4); Reliant (RRI Energy) (4); Southern Company (4); AEP (3); and NRG (3).

Environmental Integrity Project Senior Attorney Ilan Levin said:

Despite years of promises, the electric power industry has barely made a dent in its mercury emissions this decade. This slow progress is nowhere near the levels that would be achieved if all plants installed modern pollution controls.  The nation’s power plants are not even close to meeting the levels that EPA forecasted under a weak Bush Administration power plant mercury rule that was subsequently thrown out by a federal court.