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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5/29/03

Contact: Amy Cradic
(609) 984-1795

NJDEP and PA Power Plant Sign Agreement to Protect Warren County Air:
Power Plant to Burn Cleaner Fuel; Close Coal-Fired Units by 2007

(03/77) TRENTON – New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced an agreement with PPL Generation, LLC (PPL), to shut down two coal-fired units at its Martins Creek power plant in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, and to take other actions to significantly reduce emissions of air pollutants from the plant.

“This agreement with PPL will greatly reduce the impact of air pollution from Martins Creek on communities in Warren County, New Jersey,” said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. “The agreement marks the first time that a state has been able to negotiate the shutdown of a coal-fired power plant outside its borders – an essential complement to New Jersey’s efforts to set more protective emission requirements for facilities inside the state.”

Warren County residents and the New Jersey DEP have worked for years to address local air quality concerns resulting from Martins Creek plant emissions. Studies by the federal Environmental Protection Agency identify the plant’s sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions as the principle reason for poor air quality in Warren County, which is located across the Delaware River from the Pennsylvania facility and has been in SO2 nonattainment since 1988. In addition, a survey by the Belvidere Environmental Commission in Warren County has found that the rate of asthma in town is twice as high as the state average. A more comprehensive study of asthma rates in the entire region is underway.

The agreement with PPL stems from New Jersey DEP’s challenge of a Pennsylvania-issued permit that authorized PPL to build a 600-megawatt natural gas-fired generating unit at its Martins Creek site. Under the newly signed agreement, the DEP has agreed to withdraw its appeal of that permit, allowing development of the cleaner burning, 600-megawatt natural gas facility to move forward. In return, PPL has agreed to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from Martins Creek’s four existing units as follows:

  • By May 2004, burning cleaner coal and oil with lower sulfur contents; and
  • By September 2007, ceasing operations of the two 1950s-vintage coal-fired generating units at the site.

As a result of this agreement, SO2 emissions from Martins Creek will be reduced by up to 80 percent – or approximately 20,000 tons per year by 2007. Also, emission reductions will be achieved for nitrogen oxides, mercury, and fine particulates. In addition, PPL will retire 70 percent of the SO2 and NOx credits made available as a result of the shutdown of the coal-fired units in 2007. Retiring the credits will prevent them from being used to authorized higher emissions at another facility upwind of New Jersey.

In addition to reducing emissions and agreeing to annually monitor its stack emissions and report data to the NJDEP, PPL is providing $100,000 to help fund a comprehensive air monitoring project in Warren County being conducted by Roche Vitamins. The monitoring project is collecting data for an ongoing regional study on asthma rates of residents in Warren County.

SO2 emissions cause acid rain, which harms our streams, lakes, forests, and farmland. SO2 emissions also create fine particles believed to contribute to hundreds of premature deaths in New Jersey every year. NOx emissions also contribute to acid rain and fine particles, as well as causing high concentrations of ground-level ozone and aggravating respiratory problems.

 

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