WMS addresses emissions concerns

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE–The recent resolution of a complaint involving the city’s power plant has raised some concerns about its current emissions controls.

Some of those concerns were addressed Monday by Wyandotte Municipal Services General Manager Melanie McCoy.

A consent decree was filed May 18 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The decree follows a 2006 notice of violation from the agency, citing WMS’s power plant’s violation of the Clean Air Act.

“We were bad, we were violating our permit limits,” McCoy said. “However, I am really proud of everyone over there right now. They made major steps and its been with a lot of pain and expense.”

The violations included using frozen or wet coal and opacity, a measure of the density of soot particles in the air and how much light they obscure.

“You could see the black coming off the stacks in the power plant in the past,” McCoy said. “You are allowed one eight-minute opacity violation per hour. If it goes for more than that, that’s a violation.”

The consent decree also includes a fine of $112,000 and requires the installation of additional controls to reduce emissions, including improved coal-handling practices, and the installation of LoNox burners, which reduce nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions, and a baghouse, which uses cloth to filter dust particles from gases. The decree, the result of five years of negotiations between the city and the EPA, also stipulates the installation of other emissions-reducing equipment and the replacement of six of the power plant’s gas-powered vehicles with vehicles that run on natural gas.

McCoy said the baghouse installation, the natural gas vehicles and the civil penalty are the only stipulations the plant has not yet completed. The plant has already purchased two natural gas-powered vehicles. The baghouse, which is estimated to cost $8 million to $10 million, must be installed within three years and should be paid for through the sale of bonds, which could result in higher electric rates for customers. The fine will be paid out of the department’s operations budget, McCoy said.

McCoy also told councilors that by agreeing to purchase more natural-gas powered vehicles, the plant greatly reduced its fine amount. As a result of the fine, the plant must also install a baghouse two years before the EPA would require most plants to.

McCoy assured the council that the department has “immensely” cut emissions since the notice of violation. She also agreed to send copies of the quarterly emissions report to the council. The report is required by the EPA.