On April 29, Jefferson County, Missouri, residents and clean air advocates called for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to strengthen its plan to clean up SO2 pollution in Jefferson County.
The Missouri DNR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have declared a portion of Jefferson County as a nonattainment area for SO2 pollution. The Sierra Club noted in an April 29 statement that some of the main sources of SO2 pollution are coal-fired power plants. Ameren operates a coal-fired power plant right in Jefferson County, as well as three others in the St. Louis metro area. The Clean Air Task Force estimates that pollution from Ameren’s (NYSE: AEE) Rush Island coal plant in Jefferson County alone causes 40 premature deaths, 61 heart attacks and 670 asthma attacks every year.
The club said that the state agency’s current proposed plan is raising concerns from clean air experts. “Contrary to what the DNR’s state implementation plan says, the new limits for Ameren’s coal-fired power plants will not meaningfully reduce the actual sulfur dioxide emissions in Jefferson County,” said Ken Miller with the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University School of Law. “The reductions realized by DNR’s plan only exist on paper.”
“Asthma attacks and hospitalizations are not only frightening for families, but costly too, said Dr. John Kissel, Retired Physician from St. Louis. “DNR should be using every tool in its power to enforce the clean up of sulfur dioxide pollution from sources like Ameren’s coal plants, which continue to operate without modern pollution controls.”
“DNR’s current plan to clean up sulfur dioxide pollution in Jefferson County allows Ameren to cut corners at the expense of local public health,” said Sara Edgar, Organizer with the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign in Missouri. “Beyond temporary fixes to aging power plants, Ameren has to be thinking of long-term, renewable energy solutions. It’s time to find ways to phase out the region’s dirtiest coal plants and tap into the clean energy boom that’s happening across the Midwest.”
The DNR held an Air Conservation Commission meeting on April 30 in Jefferson City about this SO2 plan, issued under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Said a DNR background document prepared for that meeting: “The main purpose of this [state implementation plan] revision is to address CAAA section 172(c) plan requirements as applicable to this nonattainment area. This SIP revision demonstrates attainment for the Jefferson County SO2 Nonattainment Area using air dispersion modeling that includes the continuation and modification of existing control strategies as well as new emission limits and other requirements. Examples of required controls include the permanent shutdown of operations at the Doe Run primary lead smelter in Herculaneum (December 2013) and strengthened stack emission limitations for three Ameren Missouri Energy Center facilities.
“The new control measures needed for this proposed SIP revision to demonstrate attainment for the 2010 SO2 NAAQS in the Jefferson County nonattainment area are made enforceable by the 2015 Consent Agreement. The 2015 Consent Agreement includes required strengthened emission limits for three Ameren Missouri Energy Centers, an associated implementation schedule, as well as monitoring network requirements for the Ameren Missouri-Rush Island Energy Center.”
DNR staff followed the methods outlined in guidance to establish longer averaging time limits for the three Ameren Missouri Energy Centers. Staff used recent hourly recorded emissions to determine variability on the desired averaging time basis and applied the resulting ratio to the modeled compliant value to arrive at the final longer averaging time emission limit. Required SO2 emission limits and requirements for reevaluating these limits based on additional ambient monitoring for attainment are both included in the 2015 Consent Agreement.
The Ameren Missouri Energy Center emission limits are:
- Labadie Energy Center, Emission Limit per Source Facility Wide Limit (Pounds SO2 per Hour) – 40,837, 24 hour block average;
- Meramec Energy Center, Emission Limit per Source Facility Wide Limit (Pounds SO2 per Hour) – 7,371, 24 hour block average; and
- Rush Island Energy Center, Emission Limit per Source Facility Wide Limit (Pounds SO2 per Hour) – 13,600, 24 hour block average.