Sandow facing another EPA rule

Power plants under gun for mercury

Three months after “dodging the bullet” on one set of new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) r u le s, Lu m inant’s Sandow power plants are awaiting word of their fate in regard to another.

Last week, amid much fanfare in Washington, D. C., the EPA announced new rules governing mercury and other toxic emissions.

Its website listed Sandow 4 and 5, along with virtually every other coal-fired and oil-fired power plant in the United States, generating at least 25 megawatts of power, as “likely covered by the rule.”

The dynamics, regarding possible consequences for impact on Sandow, are similar to those from the Cross- State Air Pollution Rule, announced last summer, which covered sulfur dioxide and nitrogen.

After studying that situation, Luminant decided to close two of its power-generating units at Monticello and mines at Monticello and Big Brown in East Texas.

Not on ly was Sa ndow not affected, Luminant pledged to make a “substantial investment” in upgrading pollution controls at Unit 4.

ADVANTAGE—Now, Luminant is studying a similar situation with regard to the EPA’s f irst- ever mercur y emission guidelines.

The company released a brief statement last week saying it was studying the 1,117-page document to determine its impact.

As with the cross-state rule, Sandow would appear to be in a better position to reach the new standards than some of Luminant’s older facilities in East Texas.

Sandow 5 is less than three years old. It went on- line in August, 2009.

Sandow 4 has undergone major environmental work in recent years. Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) was installed in the 1970s- era power plant in the early 2000s.

That project was part of a settlement of an antipollution lawsuit brought against Alcoa.

It was that competitive advantage which spared Sandow in Luminant’s decision to close East Texas facilities during the summer.

Luminant’s Big Brown facility is 39 years old, Monticello is 33 and Martin Lake is 32.

MERCURY—The new EPA rule addresses not only mercury emissions but also arsenic, nickel, selenium, cyanide and acid gas.

It’s the first time for numerical emission limits to be imposed for those elements.

The EPA proposes a range of “widely available technical and economically reasonable practices, technologies and compliance strategies” to meet the new demands.

The new rule requires the vast amount of mercury contained in coal be captured and prevented from being released into the air when burned for energy and would require operators to shut down or upgrade the least efficient power plants.

Which is exactly what’s happening with regard to last summer’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule with closings in East Texas.

Power plant operators have three years to comply with the mercury standards but may be granted additional time if able to demonstrate a valid need.

More than 400 persons are employed, combined, at Sandow Power Plant Units 4 and 5 and Luminant’s Three Oaks Mine.

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