News Release:
Friday, June 6, 2003 , 10:30 AM

For More Information:
Neil Carman, Ph.D., Sierra Club (512) 472-1767
Karen Hadden, Seed Coalition (512) 479-7744/(512) 797-8481 (cell)

San Antonio Residents Seek State Investigation of 6,000 Smoke Pollution Violations at CPS's J.T. Deely Power Plant-Worst Power Plant in Texas for Soot Violations

SAN ANTONIO-Residents of San Antonio sent a letter Friday to Margaret Hoffman, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, requesting an agency investigation into the more than six thousand "opacity" or smoke violations of the Clean Air Act discovered by citizens in state records for the J.T. Deely coal-fired power plant. City Public Service operates the plant at its Calaveras Lake complex southeast of San Antonio.

Residents believe there may be as many as 10,000-12,000 of these smoke violations at the two Deely units in just the last five years alone and are continuing to examine additional public records for CPS. The 6,000 new soot violations may make Deely the worst coal-fired power plant violator in Texas. The data for 11 recent quarterly reports has been examined so far.

"This is a major health concern for every resident in the San Antonio area,"
said T.C. Calvert, of the Neighborhoods First Alliance. "You usually can't see this smoke and soot pollution after it leaves the smokestack but it affects all of us, especially the elderly, the sick, those with heart disease, and kids with asthma. It shortens lives, and for lots of kids it makes it unsafe for them to play outside. It's just a shame that it takes public pressure on the TCEQ to make the agency carry out the law the way it was written."

CPS is required to submit quarterly reports to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) whenever it is exceeding the permit speed limit for soot pollution from the two Deely smokestacks. The federal Clean Air Act requires reporting to the TCEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in order to track violators and consider taking enforcement action to bring about compliance. Deely's two smokestacks each have a soot limitation of twenty percent averaged over a six-minute period, but stack monitors measured repeated exceedances of that enforceable pollution level far above twenty percent.

Many exceedances were at more than fifty percent, and some reached eighty percent and even ninety percent, which are illegal soot levels. The high pollution levels mean that CPS is spewing out unsafe amounts of soot and smoke particle pollution. Soot and smoke particles from factories and urban sources have been linked to increased rates of premature deaths, heart attacks and lung disease in dozens of medical studies in the U.S. In San Antonio, 93 premature deaths per year are attributed to power plant particle pollution.

The agency is conducting a technical review of the Deely air permit undergoing renewal after ten years and the agency's review process is required to analyze the compliance history for the last five years.

In May local residents asked the agency for a public hearing over renewal of the Deely air pollution permit due to concerns that the coal-fired power plant's smokestack emissions are producing dirty air in the San Antonio area. San Antonio has already suffered thirteen exceedances of the EPA's new eight-hour ozone standard that occurred on seven days in May. San Antonio experienced seventeen days of unhealthy ozone in 2002 with a total of thirty-two exceedances at various monitoring stations.

The San Antonio area's growing ozone problem is caused partly by heavy emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from industrial point sources of pollution. J.T. Deely and CPS's other Calaveras Lake plants together rank as the largest source of NOx in San Antonio and contribute significantly to the region's ozone woes. The TCEQ traced smog-forming pollution from the Calaveras Lake plants that had been mixing with urban sources to a June 18, 2002 one-hour ozone episode in San Antonio.

Summary of Exceedances listed in CPS's Quarterly Excess Emissions Reports on Opacity for JT Deely Units #1 and #2 Smokestacks

1st Quarter 2002 - ~400 exceedances
2nd Quarter 2002 - ~475 exceedances
3rd Quarter 2002 - Exceedance report not yet obtained from TCEQ
4th Quarter 2002 - Exceedance report not yet obtained from TCEQ

1st Quarter 2001 - ~1,200 exceedances
2nd Quarter 2001 - ~450 exceedances
3rd Quarter 2001 - ~450 exceedances
4th Quarter 2001 - ~585 exceedances
2001 Total = 2,685 exceedances

1st Quarter 2000 - ~700 exceedances
2nd Quarter 2000 - ~1,200 exceedances
3rd Quarter 2000 - ~230 exceedances
4th Quarter 2000 - ~30 exceedances
2000 Total = 2,160 exceedances

1st Quarter 1999 - Exceedance report not yet obtained from TCEQ
2nd Quarter 1999 - Exceedance report not yet obtained from TCEQ
3rd Quarter 1999 - Exceedance report not yet obtained from TCEQ
4th Quarter 1999 - ~575 exceedances

1st Quarter 1998 - Exceedance report not yet obtained from TCEQ
2nd Quarter 1998 - Exceedance report not yet obtained from TCEQ
3rd Quarter 1998 - Exceedance report not yet obtained from TCEQ
4th Quarter 1998 - Exceedance report not yet obtained from TCEQ

11 quarter total = ~6,295 exceedances

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