(AUGUSTA, Maine) Total emissions of the harmful pollutant nitrogen oxides (NOx) increased 45% – by an additional 1,302 tons – at the Wyman power plant outside of Portland between 1998 and 1999, according to figures released today by the Natural Resources Council of Maine. NOx emissions per unit of energy (Btu) generated, also increased. Florida Power and Light Energy (FPLE) became the owner of Wyman Power Plant in April 1999.
NOx emissions have increased every year for the past three years (1996-99) at Wyman Station, for a total increase of 257%. Last year’s increased NOx emissions from Wyman were the equivalent of adding 65,000 cars to Maine roads.
“These major pollution increases threaten our health and environment and there’s no end in sight. It is time for Wyman to clean up its act,” said Sue Jones, Air Project Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Wyman is the largest source of air pollution in Maine and is currently the subject of a pollution reduction proposal before the Board of Environmental Protection.
NOX POLLUTION FROM WYMAN STATION:
Year 1996 1997 1998 1999
NOx Emissions 1,176 tons 2,463 tons 2,898 tons 4,200 tons
% increase over previous yr. 109% 18% 45%
TOTAL % INCREASE 1996-99 — 257%
Alone, NOx is a respiratory irritant that, combined with hydrocarbons, forms dangerous levels of ground-level ozone which especially threatens the health of the more than 400,000 young, old and breathing-impaired Mainers.
Combined with SO2 emissions, NOx emissions form acid rain, which has acidified over 100 lakes in Maine, making them unable to support fish life. NOx falling in Maine’s coastal estuaries and Casco Bay leads to increased algae blooms, threatening our shellfish and fisheries industries. NOx also contributes to global climate change. In communities surrounding the plant, residents have observed increased amounts of particulate soot falling from the plant.
“We can see the impact of Wyman’s emissions on our environment and communities in the soot that the plant deposits on Cousins Island neighborhoods, and in the ozone smog that plagues the coast all the way to Acadia National Park,” said Jones.
“We continue to be very worried about the health of our residents, especially our children. Reduction of NOx emissions is a top priority,” said Ed Simmons of Yarmouth.
To reduce these emissions, the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) is now considering a rule, which they supported 5-4 in a preliminary vote, that would require Wyman to reduce NOx emissions on-site to the same level required of all power plants built since 1977. The deadline for comments on this rule is August 15.
The Wyman plant’s owner, energy giant Florida Power and Light Energy (FPLE) is valued at $11 billion. In 1998, its parent company, FPL Group, Inc., was ranked as the 6th largest electricity generator in the U.S. FPL is balking at what it claims will be a $40-50 million investment to significantly reduce the pollution it emits into Maine’s air.
FPLE has already spent more than $1 billion cleaning up plants in their home state: it has spent $467 million at its Fort Lauderdale plant and $600 million at its Sanford, Florida plant. In the next few years, it plans to spend hundreds of millions of more dollars repowering to cleaner natural gas at 3 other plants in Florida. It has announced building new gas-fired plants in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
EPA believes that Wyman can go beyond meeting the 1977 standards with readily available technology. Using the same conventional technology required of upwind oil-fired power plants, EPA believes that Wyman can reduce its NOx emissions by 81% in a “highly cost-effective” manner. On a cost per ton basis, EPA believes that the company can do this at a cost 3-4 times less than what FPLE estimates, according to comments EPA submitted July 5 to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
“Cleaning up Wyman’s pollution will reduce the impact that air pollution has on our health,” said Jones. “The BEP did the right thing in their preliminary vote to clean up Wyman. The most recent pollution figures should strengthen their resolve to clean up our air.”
The data on increased emissions was gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which monitors power plant emissions nationwide.