Tag Archives: mercury

FPL and JEA exiting Plant Scherer Unit 4 near Macon, GA 2020-06-26

The biggest, dirtiest, coal plant in the country is losing the owners of one of its four units: Plant Scherer, near Juliette, Georgia, north of Macon. Florida Power & Light (FPL) and the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA), are bailing out of their 76.4% and 23.6% shares of unit 4, by January 2022. Somebody else may buy into unit 4, and thus Georgia Power may keep it running. But maybe not, considering the reason for FPL and JEA exiting is that the plant is no longer economical to run. Meanwhile, where will the coal ash go?

At least maybe soon less mercury will go into the air and come down in the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers and the Okefenokee Swamp.

JEA: Plant Scherer
Photo: JEA. Plant Scherer, located near Macon, Georgia, is operated by the Georgia Power Company. Unit 4, one of the four steam units located at the site, is partially owned by JEA. Unit 4 uses coal to produce JEA’s 200 MW portion of electricity output, which is delivered to Jacksonville over large, high-voltage electric transmission lines.

This move was signaled in FPL’s Ten Year Power Plant Site Plan 2020 – 2029, Submitted To: Florida Public Service Commission, April 2020:

(i) Retirement of Existing Generating Units That Are No Longer Economic to Operate:

…the retirement of FPL’s ownership portion (approximately 76%) of the coal-fueled Scherer Unit 4 unit in Georgia is planned by January 2022. FPL’s ownership portion of this unit is approximately 630 MW.

The news is not all good. Brendan Rivers, wjct, 26 June 2020, JEA Approves Plan To Close Unit At Plant Scherer, 1 Of Nation’s Biggest Carbon Emitters,

The transaction approved by the board includes JEA entering into a Continue reading

Stream monitoring with only annual reporting privatized by Lowndes County Commission 2020-04-28

With only one dissenting vote, last night the Lowndes County Commission approved more than $45,000 for a sole-source contract for stream monitoring, with only annual reporting required. Since the contractor is private, it doesn’t have to answer open records requests. How does this help warn people when the rivers are clean or not?

There had never been any bids, even though the requirement for this monitoring from GA-EPD apparently came in back in June 2018. The Commissioners did not have the monitoring plan in front of them, nor the GA-EPD requirement, as near as I can tell.

[BUDGET IMPACT: $45,120.00]
BUDGET IMPACT: $45,120.00

Apparently somebody read a list of streams to the Commissioners, along with the monitoring required for each. But that list was not in the posted agenda.

[Suwannee Basin impaired waters, map]
Suwannee Basin impaired waters, map by GECAP.

We can guess it was maybe the “Not Supporting” or “Assessment Pending” streams in Lowndes County from the GA-EPD Listing of Waterbodies, Clean Water Act Section 303(d), for which see below. But we don’t know.

And what about the contamination often coming down Okapilco Creek into GAR031102030902 Withlacoochee River: Okapilco Creek to Stateline? No Commissioner thought to ask that. How will this contractor work with WWALS? Perhaps an indication came when I spoke with the County Engineer Mike Fletcher Monday morning: “I don’t know what WWALS is doing,” he said.

Did Lowndes County consult with any of the various organizations that are doing stream monitoring already, such as the cities of Valdosta or Quitman, Madison Health, FDEP, SRWMD, or SGRC? If so, they didn’t mention it in last night’s meeting.

It is not even clear that this was a public meeting. At 2:38 PM, less than three hours before Continue reading

WCTV on mining proposed near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge 2019-08-21

“Because of the coal plants in Georgia, there’s mercury deposition on the surface of the ground for years. If they go stir all that up, that could run in to the swamp,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman. “Why should we risk the Okefenokee, its boating, its fishing, its birding.”

Quoted by a reporter based in Valdosta, GA for WCTV in Tallahassee, FL, Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 21 August 2019, Heavy mining facility proposed near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge,

[Sign]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Okefenokee NWR Entrance Sign, 2019-07-18

…Last week the Charlton County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution of support for the project. County officials said the reason is because Charlton County does not have many industry opportunities of its own, and many residents leave to surrounding counties for work. officials said the 150 jobs created from the project could be beneficial to the county.

The Okefenokee Swamp is the headwater for the Suwannee River, which is why community members across the region are fighting the proposal, saying it could have consequences in both states.

In the proposal, the Continue reading

FDEP summoned to Baker County about EZBase coal ash byproduct 2019-04-16

JEA “specifically declined the invitation” by the Baker BOCC to come talk about EZBase, a road pavement material made from coal ash, and spread on roads and parking lots in Baker County, Florida. FDEP accepted an invitation and will present this Tuesday. The Baker (FL) BOCC and Mark Lyon invite everyone to that meeting.

When: Meeting starts 5PM, FDEP presentation about 6PM,
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Where: Baker County Courthouse, 339 E Macclenny Ave # 113, Macclenny, FL 32063

Event: facebook, meetup

Photo: Michael Rivera, of Baker County, Florida, Courthouse. CC Attribution, Share Alike
Photo: Michael Rivera, of Baker County, Florida, Courthouse. CCAttributionShare Alike

Most of Baker County, including its county seat Macclenny, is in the St Marys River watershed. However, south along FL 121 before the Union County line on the way to Fort Butler, part of Baker County is in the Suwannee River Basin, and we don’t know whether EZBase may have been spread on roads there.

Plus JEA shipped coal ash from Jacksonville to the Veolia Pecan Row landfill in Lowndes County, Georgia, which is in the Suwannee River Basin, a quarter mile uphill from the Withlacoochee River and in a Floridan Aquifer recharge zone.

While environmentalists everywhere are celebrating North Carolina DEQ’s Order for Duke Energy to Excavate Coal Ash at Six Remaining Sites, let’s remember the decision for each of those six sites was “Movement of coal ash to a new or existing lined landfill”. We don’t want Duke or JEA or other coal ash in our landfills or “recycled” as EZBase and spread on roads. The utilities that created the coal ash should have to bear the expense of disposing of it safely on their own land.

JEA also owns Continue reading

Rivers bigger and more important that previously thought 2018-06-28

Rivers and streams cover more of the earth’s surface than previously thought, and likely interchange more CO2 and other gases with the atmosphere than previously thought. WWALS Science Committee Chair Tom Potter found this paper.

George H. Allen and Tamlin M. Pavelsky, Science, 28 Jun 2018, DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0636 Global extent of rivers and streams,

Abstract

The turbulent surfaces of rivers and streams are natural hotspots of biogeochemical exchange with the atmosphere. At the global scale, the total river-atmosphere flux of trace gasses such as CO2 depends on the proportion of Earth’s surface that is covered by the fluvial network, yet the total surface area of rivers and streams is poorly constrained. We used a global database of planform river hydromorphology and a statistical approach to show that global river and stream surface area at mean annual discharge is 773,000 ± 79,000 km2 (0.58 ± 0.06%) of Earth’s non-glaciated land surface, an area 44 ± 15% larger than previous spatial estimates. We found that rivers and streams likely play a greater role in controlling land-atmosphere fluxes than currently represented in global carbon budgets.

Fig. 1. Global River Widths from Landsat (GRWL) Database, Figure
Fig. 1. The Global River Widths from Landsat (GRWL) Database contains more than 58 million measurements of planform river geometry. The line plot on the right shows observed river coverage as a percentage of land area by latitude, and the bottom insets show GRWL at increasing zoom. The rightmost inset shows GRWL orthogonals over which river width was calculated, with only every eighth orthogonal shown for clarity.

You can see the lower Suwannee River in the above figure.

The authors zoom in on the Amazon River Basin in Brazil, but those last two zooms could easily be Continue reading

GA coal ash committee might consider more safeguards

Georgia Power (and Florida Power & Light and Jacksonville Electric Authority) created the coal ash; they can find ways to dispose of it safely on their own land. And if FPL is shutting down coal plants, how about shutting down its Unit 4 at Plant Scherer, which sends mercury into our Alapaha River. FPL bought into that unit decades ago with the same excuses it’s using for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline now: shutting down a different generating plant, and alleged (now admitted false) need for more electricity.

Georgia Power coal ash pond at Plant Scherer
The Georgia Power coal ash pond at Plant Scherer, seen here in this undated company photo, will be closed over the next three years. Fabian, Liz – Macon Special to The [Macon] Telegraph

Kristina Torres, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, More safeguards could be considered for coal ash ponds in Georgia, Continue reading

Reject Sabal Trail easement payment tonight –WWALS to Lowndes County Commission 2016-01-26

The Lowndes County Commission is voting tonight on an easement for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline through a mercury-contaminated closed landfill. STA. 12818+00 TO STA. 12871+00, Clyatt Mill Creek, Railroad Ave. They only gave one day’s notice, and they didn’t mention the landfill. Here is the letter (PDF) I just sent them asking them to reject that easement, to support their own previous unanimous resolution against Sabal Trail, and to contact state and federal elected and appointed officials and ask them also to reject Sabal Trail. You can write them, too, to commissioner@lowndescounty.com.

To: Lowndes County Board of County Commissioners, Continue reading

Coal plant mercury in Alapaha River

Update 2015-04-28: See EPA 2002 report that spells out Plant Scherer as the largest mercury point source in the Alapaha Airshed.

Background to the EPA hearings on its proposed Clean Power Plan: EPA previously said nonpoint source pollution is the biggest water quality problem, and EPA and GA EPD say our Alapaha River is contaminated with mercury. That mercury comes from Plant Scherer, the country’s dirtiest coal plant.

The problem, effects, and cause are spelled out in these Comments on CAMR Draft, Language Options by Jill Johnson, Georgia Public Interest Research Group, April 6, 2006: Continue reading