Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Alaska Coal Updates

Healy "Clean Coal" Plant - image: PA
From Fairbanks via APRN:
The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating a coal-fired power plant in downtown Fairbanks to determine whether it’s the source of a messy and possibly hazardous dust that blankets the area. 
The investigation could lead to a designation as a federal Superfund cleanup site.
From Healy via The Alaska Dispatch:

Alaska has issued a key air quality control permit needed to restart the long-dormant Healy Clean Coal Plant, a 50-megawatt power plant about 90 miles south of Fairbanks that has sat idle more than a decade and been called one of Alaska's most conspicuous boondoggles.

On Friday, Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation issued what is basically a renewal for a previously issued air quality permit for the Healy Clean Coal Project. The permit also covers the Healy No. 1 plant, which is adjacent to the Healy Clean Coal Plant and had been operating without updated permits. It will be the first time since 2009 since the facilities have operated under an updated permit.

A variety of government entities, both state and federal, and Usibelli Coal Co. have chipped in more than $300 million in grants, bonds, loans and in-kind donations to build the plant and explore experimental combustion and emissions-control technology. But when the plant was completed, lackluster performance tests and hesitation from its main customer, Fairbanks utility Golden Valley Electrical Association (GVEA), led to the plant's closing in late 1999.

Critics at the time said that the plant would cost too much to run, was unsafe and unreliable. Perhaps most important, it wasn't shown to pollute the air any less than conventional coal-fired equipment.
From Palmer via  Friends of MatSu (disclaimer - I am Secretary of the organization's board):
Please join Alaska Community Action on Toxics for a discussion with Alan H. Lockwood, MD on the growing body of medical evidence linking coal development to human health risks.

At every stage – from mining,transportation, storage, combustion, and disposal of post-combustion wastes – coal development threatens human and environmental health. Pollutants from coal damage all major organ systems in the human body and contribute to four of the five leading causes of death in the United States. 

Dr. Lockwood, Professor of Neurology at the University of Buffalo, is a member of Physicians for Social Responsiblity and is principal author of the PSR medical report “Coal’s Assault on Human Health” which takes a new look at the devastating impacts of coal on the human body. Coal combustion releases mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and dozens of other substances known to be hazardous to human health. This report looks at the cumulative harm inflicted by those pollutants on three major body organ systems: the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and the nervous system.

To join this free call and receive the dial-up instructions, please RSVP to Alaska Community Action on Toxics at heather@akaction.org or (907) 222-7714.

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