citizens of the Cedar Valley address the proposal for a coal burning power plant
City Council meeting
May 7, 2007
1. Linda Huss, Waterloo
My name is Linda Huss. I am a physician.
The proposed power plant will have many harmful effects from the mercury, arsenic, fine particulates and other emissions. Premature deaths from fine particulates are well recognized in the medical literature. A study published in February in the prestigious NEJM followed 66,000 women and found air pollution was a much bigger factor in death from stroke and heart disease than previously recognized. Whether the coal plant is new or old, the total amount of fine particulates put out by a coal plant is what will affect health. Every 10 microgram rise in fine particulate air pollution per cubic meter caused a 76% increase in mortality in these women with no history of cardiovascular disease. Evidence supporting tighter restrictions on fine particulate pollution is overwhelming, but the EPA failed to tighten restrictions last fall, ignoring recommendations of their own scientists.
LS Power pleads ignorance of the exact emissions from the proposed plant. However, a plant they are building in Texas (Sandy Creek), roughly the same size as the one here, will put out 1434 tons of particulate matter/year, based on their own permit. Pollution from the Sandy Creek plant which is “new cleaner coal” is expected to prematurely kill 13 people/year. And the deaths will not be way out in the future. A study presented at the American Thoracic Society last year found 2 years or less of exposure to fine particulates is all the time needed to markedly raise the risk of death for patients with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Decreased air quality is not the only potential hazard. LS Power says there is little risk of leakage of pollutants into ground water from flyash and that what does leak is far below any risk levels. However the EPA, which inexplicably doesn’t require ground water monitoring at flyash dump sites, has documented over 70 cases of drinking water or surface water being contaminated with power plant waste. How can LS Power guarantee this will not happen?
This is a mega coal plant. It may pollute less per BTU, but it will produce so many BTU’s that is will put out many more pollutants overall than the plants in Cedar Falls. Any problem with it will be a mega problem. What guarantees do people living near it have that we will be notified promptly of any over pollution of our air and water?
The EPA doesn’t always act, for example not tightening restrictions on fine particulates and not requiring ground water monitoring. The health care costs and cost of premature death to Waterloo and Cedar Valley citizens and businesses will be enormous and far outweigh supposed tax benefits.
As City Council members, which of you will stop this plant now and not pass the buck to other agencies? The Challenger space shuttle disaster could have been stopped if someone had the courage to speak up, instead of figuring someone else would stop it.