Hundreds attend hearing on SWEPCO power plant
BY BILL W. HORNADAY
HOPE — Public attitudes toward a proposed coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County have changed little since about 100 people attended its first air permit hearing last July. But public interest certainly has.
More than 550 spectators packed an auditorium and three auxiliary rooms at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope for a second hearing held Thursday night by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.
As with the first hearing, nearly two-thirds of those who offered verbal comments spoke against the $ 1. 6 billion facility. Yet those who supported the John W. Turk Jr. power plant planned 15 miles northeast of Texarkana generally received louder applause.
SWEPCO estimates filed with the Arkansas Public Service Commission indicate about 5 million tons of carbon dioxide, 1, 300 tons of nitrous oxide and about 350 pounds of mercury — along with 97 tons of volatile organic compounds — will be emitted annually from Turk’s 50-story smokestack after all control technology is applied at the plant.
Such levels are within limits allowed by environmental regulators, SWEPCO said. But mercury is a neurotoxin that causes brain damage and recent medical studies have linked it to autism, Sierra Club officials said in August. Read More
As I have reported before, the Sierra Club has declared war on coal fired power plants. One of the biggest concerns voiced at this public meeting was the concern over mercury. Mercury is a hazardous material and measures do need to be taken to minimize the impact on our environment. However it is interesting that the Sierra Club is promoting the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs for use in our houses and they contain mercury and will eventually end up in a landfill.