Exceptional News for NEO - FirstEnergy to Close Dirty Coal Burning Power Plants, including Lake Shore, on Lake Erie in Cleveland

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 11/29/2010 - 06:43.

 

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today Birders to lose favorite perches, birds lose havens when 2 power plants close, whereby the PD takes some of the best economic development and public health news of Clevelanders' lifetimes - "plans by FirstEnergy Corp. to close lakefront power plants at East 72nd Street in Cleveland and in Eastlake in Lake County" (and two others on Lake Erie, apparently) - and presents that as bad news for bait shops, birds, ecotourism and the region.

The PD doesn't even mention that what this news really means for Clevelanders is NOT BEING EXPOSED TO 148,141 pounds of toxic chemicals spewed by Lakeshore into the air Clevelanders breathe each year, and that will save lives and make citizens smarter, healthier and more productive in Northeast Ohio. Better air quality will lead to higher property values and reduced public health costs, and that will make this region wealthier and more attractive for residents, who will have a higher quality of life here with cleaner air quality. People will have fewer reasons not to move to the region, and more reasons not to leave.

Why FirstEnergy is shutting down these plants is certainly telling about Ohio's economy... "FirstEnergy spokeswoman Ellen Raines said the shutdowns are the consequence of a slow economy, declining demands for electricity and future environmental regulations that could require costly anti-pollution scrubbers on smokestacks to reduce chemical emissions"... as is also the case for FirstEnergy's Burger coal-burning plant, also being shut down for lack of demand.

But the Cleveland Plain Dealer's warped spin on this breakthrough for Clevelanders is that this is bad news for the environment and local economy - the PD reports of supposed GOVERNMENT environmentalists who are upset these deadly plants are shutting down....

"Thanks for ruining my weekend," said John Pogacnik, a naturalist with the Lake Metroparks and an inveterate lake-watcher. "The winter always seemed to go quicker when we had the gulls to look forward to every weekend."

On most winter days, birders bundled against the frigid winds and blinking away tears could often be found lined up along the breakwalls at the warm-water release sites, peering through high-powered spotting scopes.

Jim McCormac, an avian education specialist for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, called the power plants "ecotourism magnets" that draw birders from across the Midwest. He wrote an article on Northeast Ohio's power plant birding that is scheduled to appear in the next issue of Birder's World magazine.

"This is a real bummer," McCormac said. "The openings in the lake caused by those warm water outflows from the power plants created some of the best and easiest birding on the entire Great Lakes in winter. Of course, it is an entirely unnatural phenomenon.

Calling the ecological harm of these First Energy coal-burning death-furnaces an "unnatural phenomenon" is beyond an understatement. Ohio power plants burn millions of tons of coal, creating millions of pounds of air, water and landfill pollution, as tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency Toxic Release Inventory... for the Lakeshore Plant linked here, and featured below.

Highlights of Lakeshore toxic chemicals released into Lake Erie include 1128 pounds of barium compounds in 2009 - 16.3 pounds of lead compounds... 750 pounds of manganese compounds... .1 pounds of mercury compounds in 2003 (the last year with data listed for those compounds) - all certainly absorbed by area birds, fish... and people who eat them.

In addition to direct water pollution releases, in 2008 Lakeshore spewed 148,141 pounds of toxic chemicals into the air Clevelanders breathe - and sent 343,778 pounds of toxic compounds to landfills.

Over the last decade, Lakeshore sent into the SURROUNDING NEIGHBORHOODS AND TRANS-BOUNDARY AIR 1,000s of pounds of Barium Compounds, over 100,000 pounds of Hydrochloric Acid, up to 350,000 pounds of Hydrogen Flouride, 100+ pounds of Lead Compounds, around 50 pounds of Mercury Compounds, 100,000s pounds of Sulfuric Acid, with some Dioxin and Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds on top... all in a typical operating year.

Add fly ash and coal dust fugitive emissions, and you start to understand no birds, birdwatchers, fish, fisherman, or citizens should live, work or play within 100s of miles of such a death trap.

Unfortunately, over 100,000 people (including my family members) live within three miles of this poison factory, and our demographics are a classic profile of environmental injustice victims in the impoverished shadows of dying post-industrial America - 90% minority... nearly 63% of households earning under $25,000 annually... 40% of residents below poverty level... less than 30% of population with any college education... 87% of housing built before 1970... less than 35% owner-occupied... 30%+ children.

It is no surprise the neighborhood immediately surrounding this plant - St. Clair Superior - has the highest childhood lead poisoning rates in Ohio, and perhaps America, at around 35% of children testing with elevated blood levels of lead in excess of 5 micro-grams per deciliter.

Of course, it is not only the residents immediately surrounding coal power plants who are harmed by pollution.

 

As I previously reported on realNEO, Air pollution may shorten lives in real NEO by 14+ years - reducing power plant pollution will have almost immediate benefits.  The chart above shows citizens of Northeast Ohio have the worst level of mortality from coal fired power plants in America - based on an online risk assessment tool accompanying the September 2010 Clean Air Taskforce study The Toll From Coal - An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America’s Dirtiest Energy Source. As the introduction states: "Among all industrial sources of air pollution, none poses greater risks to human health and the environment than coal-fired power plants – perhaps most consequential of all from a public health standpoint – fine particle pollution."

Fine particles are especially dangerous because they can bypass the body’s defensive mechanisms and become lodged deep in the human lung. Indeed, research also indicates that short-term exposures to fine particle pollution is linked to cardiac effects, including increased risk of heart attack. Meanwhile, long-term exposure to fine particle pollution has been shown to increase the risk of death from cardiac and respiratory diseases and lung cancer, resulting in shorter life-expectancy for people living in the most polluted cities compared to people who live in cleaner cities. And although research suggests fine particles reduce the average life span of the general population by a few years, the life of an individual dying as a result of exposure to air pollution may be shortened by 14 years.

The hopeful news for Northeast Ohio in this science is:

Because most fine particle-related deaths are thought to occur within a year or two of exposure, reducing power plant pollution will have almost immediate benefits.

I would therefore expect the Cleveland media and leaders would be celebrating reducing coal power plant emissions in the region as a victory for citizens, rather than a problem for birds.

Fine particle pollution from existing coal plants is expected to cause nearly 13,200 deaths in 2010. Additional impacts include an estimated 9,700 hospitalizations and more than 20,000 heart attacks per year. The total monetized value of these adverse health impacts adds up to more than $100 billion per year. This burden is not distributed evenly across the population. Adverse impacts are especially severe for the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. In addition, the poor, minority groups, and people who live in areas downwind of multiple power plants are likely to be disproportionately exposed to the health risks and costs of fine particle pollution.

Poor, minority... people who live in areas downwind of multiple power plants... describes the Lakeshore plant neighborhood perfectly... meaning we are likely to be disproportionately exposed to the health risks and costs of fine particle pollution

Shutting down the FirstEnergy Lakeshore plant will provide significant health and economic benefits to residents of Northeast Ohio. Shutting down three additional FirstEnergy coal burning plants on Lake Erie, and R. E. Burger, in Shadyside, Ohio, shall improve the quality of our air and our public health significantly.

In addition to eliminating the pollution from FirstEnergy coal plants in Ohio, citizens are acting to shut down coal burning at MCCO, in University Circle... and at Cleveland Thermal, in the downtown Cleveland Flats area... and at the Arcelor/Mittal Cleveland Works steel operations a few miles south of that... and the combination of all that environmental change in Ohio will make this region the healthiest it has been in over a century.

It is important to note, regarding the FirstEnergy coal plant shut-downs just announced by the PD... "Raines said the Eastlake and Cleveland plants, along with two others on Lake Erie, could be fired up to temporarily cover emergency power needs." In other words, the freedom to pollute is still available to FirstEnergy, should demand for dirty power increase.

To protect future generations, action should be taken to shut down coal burning operations at the FirstEnergy Lakeshore plant forever, by preventing renewal of their EPA permit, which expires in July, 2011.

And, realize the Cleveland Plain Dealer surely stands to protect FirstEnery's right to pollute as long as possible, as they are great champions of the powerful coal interests based and represented by powerful lawyers in this region.

As I observed, in Air pollution may shorten lives in real NEO by 14+ years:

We aren't well informed about these realities in Northeast Ohio, because the media and leadership here are corrupted by coal - politicians are related by blood to coal - the media is sold-out to coal....

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realneo.us norm = no coal = no pollution = freedom from fear =

realneo.us norm = no coal = no pollution = freedom from fear = they can't murder us

yogi and guy http://www.disclosureproject.com TRUTH - EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL http://www.nationalwardogsmonument.org

We won't have to fear cancer, heart disease, asthma, diabetes,

We won't have to fear cancer, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer's, ADHD, Autism and most other "modern medical conditions"... nor climate change... nearly as much with each coal plant we close in the region, state, and nation.

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Announcement of cut backs at FirstEnergy Plants

Announcement of cut backs at FirstEnergy Plants

I did some google searching and found more details about the proposed cutbacks at the four FirstEnergy coal plants mentioned in the above article - see FirstEnergy Corp. to throttle back four smaller coal-fired power plants - it is clear from the emissions data for 2009 for LakeShore that that plant was running at about 1/3 the 2008 capacity so was already in reduced operations.

It is not clear from the latest PD coverage on these closings whether the schedule has changed - more details are certainly needed.

No mention in the PD coverage of the harm caused residents from burning coal, or the benefits to the environment or public health from closing these plants and others.

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FirstEnergy Generation Corp. Announces Plans to Reduce Operation

I found the Press Release announcing these developments on PR Newswire:

Note some important facts from FirstEnergy:

"While we've seen signs of economic recovery in the first half of this year compared with 2009, customer demand is still well below 2008 levels," said Gary R. Leidich, executive vice president of FirstEnergy and president of FirstEnergy Generation Corp.  "As a result, our smaller, load-following plants have been called upon to operate less frequently.  By reducing operations at these facilities, we will better match our generation with our expected customer loads and position our company to comply with ever increasing environmental regulations." 

In 2009, FirstEnergy Generation Corp. took steps to minimize the use of these plants in response to the slowing economy.  These included dispatching all the units on an economic basis and establishing a three-day start time with MISO for the Lake Shore and Ashtabula plants.  Since that time, the units have been called upon to operate on a limited basis.  

As is shown in the table above, the EPA Toxic Release Inventory data for 2009 shows significant pollution emission reductions from the Lakeshore Plant in 2009, compared with 2008... a step in the right direction... more positive steps to go:

FirstEnergy Generation Corp. Announces Plans to Reduce Operations at Smaller Plants

AKRON, Ohio, Aug. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) announced today that its FirstEnergy Generation Corp. subsidiary plans to make operational changes at certain of its smaller coal-fired units in response to the continued slow economy and lower demand for electricity, as well as uncertainty related to proposed new federal environmental regulations.  

The changes – which affect Bay Shore units 2-4 in Oregon, Ohio; Eastlake Plant units 1-4 in Eastlake, Ohio; the Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland, Ohio; and the Ashtabula Plant in Ashtabula, Ohio – are designed to reduce operating costs and provide more predictability while maintaining availability for future operations, as needed.  Efforts will be made to reassign affected employees to other FirstEnergy facilities.

"While we've seen signs of economic recovery in the first half of this year compared with 2009, customer demand is still well below 2008 levels," said Gary R. Leidich, executive vice president of FirstEnergy and president of FirstEnergy Generation Corp.  "As a result, our smaller, load-following plants have been called upon to operate less frequently.  By reducing operations at these facilities, we will better match our generation with our expected customer loads and position our company to comply with ever increasing environmental regulations."  

During the period of September 2010 through August 2011, the affected units will operate with a minimum three-day notice and in response to customer demand, such as during summer and winter extreme weather conditions, when we anticipate that the units will dispatch more frequently.

Beginning September 2011, for approximately 18 months, the Bay Shore and Eastlake units will be available only in the winter and summer months, and the Ashtabula and Lake Shore plants will be temporarily idled.  

As a result of the operating changes at the plants, the company estimates it could write off up to $287 million in value related to the assets.  This write off could result in a reduction of up to $0.59 per share of common stock in the third quarter of 2010.

The changes are subject to review by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO), PJM Interconnection and the independent market monitors to ensure that there is no negative impact on system reliability.  

In 2009, FirstEnergy Generation Corp. took steps to minimize the use of these plants in response to the slowing economy.  These included dispatching all the units on an economic basis and establishing a three-day start time with MISO for the Lake Shore and Ashtabula plants.  Since that time, the units have been called upon to operate on a limited basis.  

Together, the units have a generating capacity of 1,620 megawatts (MW).  In 2009 they produced approximately 6.8 percent of the company's total generation output that year.

FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company headquartered in Akron, Ohio.  Its subsidiaries and affiliates are involved in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, as well as energy management and other energy-related services.  Its seven electric utility operating companies comprise the nation's fifth largest investor-owned electric system, based on 4.5 million customers served within a 36,100-square-mile area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and its generation subsidiaries control more than 14,000 megawatts of capacity.

SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.

Back to top RELATED LINKS
http://www.firstenergycorp.com

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NEO "Birders" seeking to view mutant birds may go to Mittal

"Birders" and other "ECOTOURISTS" drawn to Northeast Ohio seeking to view mutant birds may go to Mittal for discharges of hot water and air pollution attracting millions of gulls and whatever other animal life is so unfortunate to have wantered Cleveland's way and been mutated here.

WARNING... BIRDERS SHALL BECOME MUTATED AS WELL!

Life Near Integrated Steel Mills Induces Mutations

These gulls are mutants... read on below and here:

Detecting Induced Heritable Mutations in situ

Germline mutations in Great Lakes herring gulls:

My lab has been studying germline mutation rates in herring gulls nesting at various sites on the Great Lakes for over 10 years. We capture breeding adults on their nests late in the egg-incubation period, and take a small blood sample from each.

We then wait for the eggs to hatch, and return to take a small blood sample from each chick.

In the laboratory we extract DNA from the blood of parents and offspring from each family, and genetically profile them using multilocus DNA fingerprinting. This produces the familiar barcode-like pattern seen commonly in textbooks and on TV. According to general rules of inheritance, offspring must inherit half of their genetic material from each parent. This means that all bands in the DNA fingerprint must have come from one parent or the other. Portions of the genetic profile that cannot be attributed to either parent are considered mutations.

Life Near Integrated Steel Mills Induces Mutations:

The general lesson we have learned after sampling and genetically profiling many gull families is that colonies close to integrated steel mills transmit DNA mutations to their offspring more frequently than those at rural sites. In addition, the closer the colony to steel mills, the higher the mutation rate. These results were published in the following two papers:

1)     Yauk,C.L. and Quinn,J.S. (1996) Multilocus DNA fingerprinting reveals high rate of heritable genetic mutation in herring gulls nesting in an industrialized urban site. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 93: 12137-12141.

2)     Yauk,C.L., Fox,G.A., McCarry,B.E., and Quinn,J.S. (2000) Induced minisatellite germline mutations in herring gulls (Larus argentatus) living near steel mills. Mutation Research 452: 211-218.

Why Do Steel Gulls Mutate?

Our gull studies provided clear evidence that steel mills were associated with elevated DNA mutation rates. We hypothesized that chemical contaminants released into the environment during steel production caused the genetic damage we were observing. We were concerned that these contaminants might also affect other wildlife and humans living nearby. The next step was to attempt to determine where the DNA-damaging pollution was coming from.

Was the route of exposure through the air, or through a diet of contaminated fish from polluted water? If air pollution was a major route of exposure, it would have the potential to reach many humans living near steel mills all over the world. Because of their potentially complex exposure to environmental contaminants through both air and diet, herring gulls could not be used to answer this question.

An Experimental System to Test Airborne Contaminants: Exposing Lab Mice in situ:

To address the route of exposure question, we needed a controlled experimental system. Lab mice offered us the chance to expose animals to ambient air conditions while controlling for factors such as genetic background, nutritional status, disease status, and food and water sources.

We exposed groups of male and female lab mice to ambient air at two sites in southern Ontario: (1) Hamilton Harbour, 1 km downwind from 2 steel mills, and (2) Freelton, on a private farm in a rural area away from major point sources of pollution. Mice were housed in cages inside of modified utility sheds as shown below.

Exposures lasted 10 weeks during the fall of 1999. During that time we gave mice at both sites commercial food and bottled water from the same source. The only difference between groups was the quality of the air they were breathing during the environmental exposure.

Six weeks after exposing mice outdoors we bred them, monitored pup development for 5 days, and sampled DNA from complete families.

We genetically profiled mouse families from the two exposure sites using DNA fingerprinting in a manner similar to the herring gull studies. The results are published in:

1)     Somers, C. M., Yauk, C. L., White, P. A., Parfett, C. L. J., and Quinn, J. S. (in press) Air Pollution Induces Heritable DNA Mutations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA

The General Message: Air Pollution Alone is Enough

Our genetic analyses of environmentally exposed mice revealed that offspring from the steel site inherited nearly double the frequency of DNA mutations compared to their rural counterparts. Clearly, air pollution near integrated steel mills can induce genetic damage. At this time we cannot identify the class of chemical pollutant responsible, but suggest that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, by-products of coal combustion, are a likely candidate.

What Next?

The results of our first outdoor mouse exposure have provided us with some very important information: air pollution may be posing a risk to future generations.

We are currently investigating HEPA filtration as a way to prevent this problem. In the picture below, we show a subsequent mouse experiment where mice in the Hamilton Harbour utility shed were housed both inside and outside of a chamber receiving HEPA filtered air. It is our hope that removing the bulk of small particles from the air prior to inhalation will reduce mutation induction. We are currently performing genetic analyses to determine whether this is true.

We have tested the ability of air pollution to induce heritable mutations, but what about the possibility that a contaminated fish diet is also a factor? We are in the midst of testing that possibility also. To do this, we designed a special diet for mice that included 58% homogenized whole smelt and alewife from Hamilton Harbour.

These two fish species represent close to 60% of the diet of herring gulls. Below, an experimental mouse feeds on a gel diet medium containing 58% alewife from Hamilton Harbour.

Mice in the fish diet study bred recently, and genetic analyses will begin very soon. Despite their small body size, preliminary contaminant analyses of the smelt and alewife have shown moderate levels of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Whether these are sufficient to produce heritable mutations through diet in mice is yet to be determined.

Acknowledgements:
NCIC
TSRI
Health Canada
CWS
NSERC
EcoWise

 

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As you view birds by Mittal, you are exposed to these toxins

As you view birds by Mittal, you are exposed to these toxins... and mutated by them (don't expect much less exposure by FirstEnergy Lakeshore plant, or anywhere within many, many miles of here...):

1,355,080 pounds of particle pollution,
1,781,800 pounds of sulfur dioxide,
3,637,640 pounds of nitrogen oxides,
37,047,800 pounds of carbon monoxide,
194,760 pounds of organic chemicals.
23,576 pounds of zinc,
3,246 pounds of manganese,
1,396 pounds of hydrochloric acid,
363 pounds of lead,
99 pounds of vanadium,
72 pounds of chromium,
40 pounds of copper,
33 pounds of barium,
22 pounds of cadmium,
08 pounds of mercury
...  dumped into Cleveland’s air in 2006
...  probably higher levels in 2010

 

 

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Significant Tax Base at Lake Shore

NR

I've always been a common sense perspective on REALNEO, and I tend to look at all sides of a discussion.  I agree w/ Norn, the Lake Shore Plant emmissions are improving over time. 

But I also like to look at the bigger picture.  Based on the coal supply and active rail sets in the posted photos, this is a productive facility in operation.  Based on the number of vehicles in the parking lots, this facility employs a significant number of workers,(assumed to be mostly UNION).  Based on those two items alone, I can make the assumption that the City of Cleveland collects significant tax dollars from FirstEnergy.  As for the "Toxics" spewed from the smokestacks, look at the first photo.  The plumes from all 5 stacks are clear but the listed TRI data does identify areas that can be improved. 

 

Regards,

DH

Emissions improvements are from reduced utilization

Pollution reductions are from reduced utilization. There is no indication they improved pollution controls (they didn't) or moved to cleaner coal - they just had less demand in 2009 and burned less coal... like 65% less, it appears.

It's all demand related on their side - cost and demand.

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Good news is it is surplus... Beyond the TRI

Good news is it is surplus and not worth upgrading. The plant in the area they are keeping open is Avon Lake, which is a much larger and I believe newer plant - put in scrubbers etc. - the old small plants aren't worth new investments (like LakeShore, MCCO, Cleveland Thermal).

We can clean up the LakeShore brownfield - shut down Burke - and redevelop the whole area - leverage the rail (it isn't going away). Closing this makes everything else around there (including Chinatown) much more valuable and ready for investment.

And I can say I know the developer of the Richmond Brothers Building (500,000 sq ft), who is Chinese, and he was concerned about the impact of the pollution from the plant (and Burke, where planes burn leaded gas) on his properly, so I know this is good news for that developer, and Hough... good for Chateau Hough too.

Other good news - FirstEnergy was reporting they aren't cutting any jobs over this - although I won't be surprised if they downsize in the future.

And I live within 3 miles so good news for me.

If you are interested to help with a related analysis I want to run, I want to add up all the emissions we eliminate from the air we breathe, and pollution we eliminate from our water, groundwater, and landfills, if we close these four FirstEnergy plants, MCCO (coal facility), Cleveland Thermal (coal facility) and Mittal (all operations). I want to calculate the total pollution of all types from those facilities and that as percentage of totals for the County, region and state.

Beyond the TRI, we need to determine some accounting for fugitive emissions from transport and storage, and waste management as those photos show that pollution is very significant in that neighborhood - so the analysis is more complex than just the EPA reports. The Sierra Club may be able to help.

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The Lake Plants (age & efficiency)

Lake Shore is an old facility, but the operating unit at the plant is only 8 years older than Avon 9, Avon Lake's newest unit.  Avon 9 is one year older than Eastlake 5 and based on the EPA data, Eastlake 5 is significant;y more efficient than Avon Lake Unit 9 and Lake Shore Unit 18.  Of course the newer units at these facilities are surrounded by units that were built during the Korean War.  Hell, the first Lake Shore  unit was built during WWI not II.  Also, Lake Shore 18 has one of the highest design efficiencies out of any generating unit in the region.  That alone potentially makes it a unit that emits less per megawatt generated per pound of coal.  This information can be found at the link below. 

Additionally, the people that will lose there job when these plants close aren't always the people at the plant (Hat's off the FE for re-deploying the Lake Shore Workforce).  Its the workers that are contracted by the plant, the local dining facilities, and the city workers relying on tax revenue, and the schools that will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars when these facilities shut their doors. 

http://www.epa.gov/airquality/transport/tech.html

or

http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/progsregs/epa-ipm/transport.html

Throwing away efficient generation to satisfy an out of control Agency will hurt the livelyhood of this greatest country on God's green Earth.

We, as citizens, will continue to feel good about how much better off we are w/out the "targeted" dirty coal plants among us.

It's a crying shame.  When our utility bills exceed our morgage, we'll wake up. 

DH