LUMINANT/TXU BIG BROWN COAL PLANT
FACES LAWSUIT FOR THOUSANDS OF POLLUTION VIOLATIONS
Sierra Club: “Dirty” Power
Plant is One of Worst Polluters in the U.S.;
Action Taken After Texas Regulators Ignore Problem
and Fail to Act.
TX) -- The Sierra Club put Energy Future Holdings
Corp. and its subsidiary, Luminant (formerly
TXU), on notice that the environmental group
intends to sue the utility giant in federal court,
for thousands of air pollution violations at
the Big Brown coal-fired electric generating
power plant, near Fairfield, Texas south of Corsicana.
The Big Brown coal-fired power plant emits air
pollution in enormous volumes each year, especially
soot particles, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen
oxides, and carbon dioxide—chemicals that worsen asthma, acid rain, smog and global warming.
Luminant’s Big Brown plant emits more asthma- and smog-forming sulfur dioxide per unit of electricity it produces than any other power plant in Texas, according to the U.S. EPA’s 2008 Clean Air Markets data. Big Brown increased emissions of mercury nearly 33% from 2007 to 2008 emitting 1,596 lbs in 2008 according to the U.S. EPA’s
2008 Toxic Release Inventory.
Pollution from Big Brown smokestack plumes travels for
hundreds of miles, including over communities in East
and North Texas, putting the health of the several million
Texans who live downwind at risk.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
has ignored excessive soot and particle pollution at
the Big Brown plant, putting the health of nearby communities
at risk, according to the Sierra Club’s “notice
of intent to sue,” a legal prerequisite under the federal Clean Air Act.
"Luminant's Big Brown coal-fired power plant
is consistently among the dirtiest in the entire nation
and one of the worst polluting coal plants in Texas every
year, along with two other Luminant coal plants," stated Neil Carman, clean air program director the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter. "Big
Brown has one of the highest totals for air pollution among
more than 2,000 industrial plants statewide with nearly 123,000
tons in 2007," Carman added. He pointed out, "In
fact Big Brown accounted for nearly 7.3% of all industrial
air pollution in Texas in 2007, an amazing amount for one
plant among several thousand."
"Big Brown's outrageous air pollution is one reason the Dallas-Fort Worth area can expect high ozone levels again next summer if nothing changes and the plant’s
massive plume of smog-forming nitrogen oxides continues
to blow into North Texas," said Ken Kramer, Director of the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter (Texas). "The
emissions from burning coal for electricity cause serious
health problems. We need to clean up Big Brown and other
existing coal-fired power plants and eventually phase them
out in favor of safer, cleaner, and cheaper energy solutions," Kramer
"This Luminant coal-fired power
plant is consistently among the most polluting power
plants in the nation,” noted
Ilan Levin, senior attorney with the Environmental Integrity
Project, representing Sierra Club in this legal action. "Our
goal is to stop illegal air pollution through strict
enforcement of the law," Levin
Yesterday afternoon, the Environmental Integrity Project,
on behalf of the Sierra Club, sent Luminant a 60-day
notice letter of intent to sue as required by the federal
Clean Air Act.
Background Information on Opacity and Particulate Matter
of intent to sue today is based on “continuous opacity monitoring systems” (or “COMS”) reports submitted by Luminant to the TCEQ and obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project through the state’s open records law.
Opacity monitoring measures the amount of soot in the power plant’s
smokestacks. Opacity is also used to assure compliance
with emissions of particulate matter, which is a mixture
of small particles, including organic chemicals, metals,
and toxic ash. See, http://www.epa.gov/air/particlepollution/pdfs/pm-color.pdf.
According to the U.S. EPA, particulate matter is linked
to decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, development
of chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks,
and premature death in people with heart or lung disease.
See e.g. U.S. EPA, Office of Air and Radiation, Particulate
Matter, Health and Environment, available at http://www.epa.gov/air/particlepollution/health.html.