News

Sandow 4 part of Sierra Club lawsuit

Luminant’s Sandow Power Plant Unit 4 is one of four units statewide cited in a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club last week against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

The Sierra Club maintains a TCEQ permit amendment issued last month authorizes an increase of almost 1,000 pounds of particulate matter into the air from Sandow 4.

Luminant, which is not a party in the lawsuit, maintains the amendments are part of the long-standing process by which the TCEQ operates and do not allow for any annual emissions increases.

SUIT—The Sierra Club filed the suit in an Austin district court after saying it learned of the permit amendments “by trolling the TCEQ’s website,” according to attorney Ilan Levin.

According to the suit, the TCEQ on Dec. 16 authorized an additional 958 tons of particulate matter from Unit 4, during startup, shutdown and maintenance operation.

That’s termed a sixfold increase over current restrictions on startup, shutdown and maintenance work.

‘NO INCREASE’—“These new permit amendments do not allow for annual emissions increases at any of our facilities,” Ashley Barrie, Luminant spokesperson told The Reporter.

“They simply limit emissions related to maintenance, startup and shutdown, activities that have been regulated by the TCEQ for years,” she said.

Barrie termed the permits amendments “just the latest in a series of similar permits issued across different industries in Texas during the last several years.”

MAINTENANCE—The lawsuit is over emissions allowed when power plant units are shut down for maintenance projects, which occur periodically in the energy generating business.

Luminant won’t release information relating to outages, terming it “market sensitive.”

However, a major project at Unit 4, involving an outage, is expected this year.

In August, Sandow 4 was mentioned as one of three Luminant locations on the receiving end of a combined investment of approximately $280 million by the end of 2012.

HEARINGS—The lawsuit also accuses the TCEQ of skipping public comment before granting the amendments.

It asks the court to order a public comment period.

Levin noted that not all power plants seeking changes to air quality permits are required to go through a public process but such a process is required if increases are deemed large enough.

Barrie said Luminant “is committed to maintaining a strong track record of exemplary compliance in meeting or outperforming all environmental laws.”


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2012-01-26 digital edition



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