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Martin Drake power plant under fire by new study

By KRDO.com Staff
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:05:21 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 15 2013 09:17:20 PM CST

The Sierra Club released a new study that suggests toxic emissions will continue to exceed current standards. Colorado Springs Utilities said the study is not credible, but said it is willing to listen to the wants of the community.

The Sierra Club has released a new study about the Martin Drake power plant.  According to the club, “The new expert study projects the Martin Drake power plant, even with the experimental NeuStream pollution technology installed, would still dramatically exceed the health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide.”

Bryce Carter, associate organizing representative for Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign, said this is a serious issue and the inhalation of toxic chemicals emitted by the plant can have serious health repercussions.

“Sulfur dioxide is one part of that, which causes asthma attacks, severe respiratory problems, lung disease and heart complications,” said Carter. 

Carter said if the plant is not decommissioned, more money will need to be spent for additional modifications.  He said the costs associated with these improvements could be passed down to ratepayers.

“We’re just throwing money at this thing to keep it downtown and all this money that we’re currently throwing at it shows that it’s not even going to work as expected,” said Carter.

He said the group wants to see a commitment toward a retirement of the Martin Drake power plant.  Carter added that the group wants the plant shut down as soon as possible, but it does seek a fair transition for workers and electricity needs.

Colorado Springs Utilities said the study is inaccurate, saying that the statistics are based on theoretical modeling.

“We believe our data, where we have actual testing, is much more accurate than any type of computer modeling,” said Dave Grossman, spokesperson for Colorado Springs Utilities.

Grossman said the state of Colorado confirmed in 2011 that the sulfur dioxide levels in Colorado Springs were below the requirement set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the Sierra Club, they question these statistics.  The club said in a written statement, "There are severe problems with monitors including how they measure conditions at a single point in space, and thus do not provide sufficient information for determining attainment for a wide area. The monitors also do not compare to modeling which uses computers to simulate thousands of receptors."

Carter said the reason behind publishing the study is to gain awareness.  He said the group wants to have a conversation with CSU to discuss solutions.

CSU said it wants to please the community, and is willing to explore options regarding the power plant.

“Our utilities board has actually commissioned a study on decommissioning the power plant.  They are studying how best to decommission the plant and provide replacement power within a 15-year-period,” said Grossman.

Grossman said CSU will be conducting this study in 2013, and will then decide what steps to take.

To read the entire report by Wingra Engineering, S.C., click here.

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