Residents tell last sooty power plant ‘This air was made for you and me’ (update)

May 15th, 2012 | By | Category: Air pollution, Health, Top Story

Update from Neena Satija of CT Mirror:

Bridgeport — More than 150 people crowded into a room in the City Hall Annex Monday night to weigh in on Bridgeport Harbor Station’s request to renew its five-year operating permit, which expired earlier this year.

Environmentalists have been trying for years to shut down the coal operations at the station, which is owned by the Newark-based Public Service Electric & Gas. This may be their best chance, said John Calandrelli, program director for the Sierra Club’s local chapter.

For more on this story, visit: Residents, environmentalists crowd hearing on Bridgeport coal plant | The Connecticut Mirror.

Environmentalists have been trying for years to shut down Connecticut’s last remaining coal-burning power plant. They could make more headway on that goal this year, since the power plant’s operating permit is up for renewal. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports on a public hearing held on the matter last night in Bridgeport, where the plant is located.

Listen to Neena’s story here: A Call to Close Bridgeport Coal Plant | yourpublicmedia.org.

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One unit of the PSEG Bridgeport Harbor Station has been shut down. It is the last coal burning power plant in Connecticut. Without it, Connecticut would be the first state to completely wean itself off coal.

PSEG Bridgeport Harbor Station

PSEG Bridgeport Harbor Station (courtesy PSEG)

But even though less than 2 percent of Connecticut’s power came from coal burning sources last year, the owners of the PSEG Bridgeport Harbor Station seem determined to get their operating permit renewed.

More than 100 people turned out for a public hearing Monday night, some in favor of the permit renewal application, others against.

Written comments will be accepted through May 21, 2012. Send them to Debola Bamgbose, DEEP, 79 Elm St., 5th floor, Hartford, CT 06106, or electronically at adebola.bamgbose@ct.gov.

PSEG Power LLC

PSEG Power LLC (photos: cjzurcher)

Those in favor of having the plant continue operations regardless of the fact that it has been found to be in noncompliance with several air pollution standards, included Paul Timpanelli, of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, and, most surprisingly to me, Theodore L. Grabarz, Bridgeport’s Sustainability Director, and Deputy Director of Public Facilities.

Personally I don’t know what Grabarz could have been thinking of, other than perhaps upcoming elections, when he said allowing PSEG to continue to burn coal to generate electricity like it has been contributes to the city’s sustainability efforts. Did he really say that? Yes, he did.

PSEG as seen from the Audubon Center in Milford

PSEG as seen from the Audubon Center in Milford

The side of the room that was generally against the permit renewal.

He mentioned efforts to go green, be sustainable, things like renewable energy. But he countered all his positive statements with things like (and he would put them in quotes) “picking our battles.” Well, PSEG seems to be one sparring partner Grabarz doesn’t want to meet in the ring. He spoke in favor of the permit renewal regardless of the toxins the plant emits into the air of his community.

That was after one resident spoke, with her daughter at her side, about her two daughters who were treated in the emergency room for breathing problems and after the Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr. said his neighborhood (ZIP code 06607) has the worst air quality in New England.

“There’s a reason why this plant isn’t in Wilton or Greenwich. No one cares about the poor and the disenfranchised,” he said. Moales is vice-treasurer of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice.

PSEG representatives spoke of “responsible coal generation” and the company’s efforts to advocate for the environment.

They say they are long-term supporters of tighter emissions standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) to achieve local and regional ambient air quality standards,” and that they have “worked with environmentalists, legislators and CT DEEP to pass nation’s first law regulating mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.”

The company’s community presence was presented as supporters of the CT Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital, raising more than $600,000 (money raised also supports the CT Burn Center’s Children Summer Camps); YMCA and South End Community Center; Cardinal Sheehan Center; United Way; Bridgeport Police Activities League; Special Olympics; Easter Seals/Goodwill industries; Title sponsor for the 2012 FSW charity fundraising event; supporters of a Bridgeport-based community service organization that offers assistance to more than 11,000 low income families and individuals; supporters of the 2011 Rock-to-Rock Earth Day bicycle ride, the proceeds of which benefited environmental organizations including the Sierra Club,  Nature Conservancy, Common Ground, and New Haven Environmental Justice Network. The company is a supporter of Bridgeport’s “BGreen 2020” Sustainability Initiative and The Center for Sustainable Business Growth; and continues to work with the CT Legislature to identify market-based renewable opportunities such as solar.

A Bridgeport resident opposes the plant's permit application because her two daughters have been treated in the emergency room for breathing problems.

Bridgeport resident Tiffany Mellers opposes the plant's permit application because her two daughters have been treated in the emergency room for breathing problems.

The Healthy Connecticut Alliance, which includes members of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Sierra Club, Conservation Law Foundation, Fairfield County Environmental Justice Network, and Toxics Actions Center Campaigns, spoke against the permit renewal citing a coal-free Connecticut, reduction of mountain-top renewal (though some said most of the coal burned in Connecticut comes from Indonesia), reduction of carbon emissions, better human health due to a decrease in particulate matter and related health problems like asthma and lung disease, bronchitis and heart disease.

Alliance spokesperson Charles Rothenberger, of CFE, concluded his statements by stating that the role of coal is declining and that the nation received less than one-third of its energy from coal in 2010, less than 10 percent regionally, and less than two percent in Connecticut.

He recommended retiring the plant and supporting the revitalization of the Bridegport community that is now underway.

Click for more on the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal initiative. 350CT.org also has a page about shutting down the PSEG plant. Click here http://350ct.org/bridgeport-coal-plant-shutdown. That page also has a link to their Facebook page on the subject.

Here is a link to comments from CFE, CLF, Sierra Club, Toxics Action Center and others filed with DEEP in objection to DEEP’s January 2012 draft permit to PSEG for the Bridgeport Harbor Station plant:  http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/public_notice_attachments/miscellaneous/pseg_hearing_-_comments.pdf  (this is large document, containing Comments, and the DEEP’s January 2012 Draft Permit, as well)

DEEP was been asked to hold a public meeting to:  (a) allow residents to describe health impacts they are living with everyday in shadow of the plant; (b) show that retirement of this plant is a state-wide goal of many residents and organizations; and (c) re-iterate some of the problems that that were identified with the draft permit – such as opacity violations and insufficient reporting protocols.

 

From the CT Post:

BRIDGEPORT — About 100 people packed a meeting room in the City Hall Annex for a public hearing on whether the Bridgeport Harbor Power Station, the last coal-burning power plant in Connecticut, should have its operating permit renewed.

Most of the speakers were there to urge the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to deny the plant’s owners, PSEG, a permit to continue operating.

For more on this story, visit: 100 turn out to speak on coal plant permit – Connecticut Post.

From WTNH

The air you breathe in Fairfield county is ranked among the worst in the entire nation; that’s just one of the reasons people packed Bridgeport’s City Hall Monday night in an effort to shut down the huge coal plant there.

For more on this story, visit: Residents: coal plant is health hazard | WTNH.com Connecticut.

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