February 6, 2014

EPA: Harding Street Plant Responsible For Most Of County's Pollution

A new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says one Indianapolis power plant is responsible for most of Marion County’s pollution.

The Agency finds the Harding Street Power Plant caused 88 percent of toxic industrial pollution in the county in 2012.

That ranks as one of the worst 100 polluters among electric utilities nationwide and Jodi Perras of the Sierra Club says it is evidence the facility needs to shut down.

"We've been calling on IPL to plan for the plant's retirement," she said. "They keep wanting to put more money into the plant and we're saying there are a lot of other ways to generate electricity in this day and age, that don't involve burning coal, that are cleaner and affordable like wind power and solar power."

The plant is run by Indianapolis Power and Light Company.

Spokesperson Brandi Davis-Handy says it meets all EPA requirements and work is underway to make it cleaner.

"IPL's been making investments in all of our generation locations for quite some time.  In the past 10 years alone, we've invested more than $600 million in new emission controls," she said.  "This has really reduced key emissions across the board."

IPL is working to finalize a long term energy plan which is due to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission by Nov. 1.

"The IURC approved our plans to invest about $511 million in new environmental controls at our Petersburg plant, but also here at Harding Street," said Davis-Handy.  "When that work is complete, and we are looking at the spring of 2016, these new controls will reduce our mercury emissions by almost 80 percent."

Yet, Perras believes the EPA report is still a red flag for coal, even if steps are made to clean it up.

"Coal itself contains mercury and arsenic and sulfur and a lot of pollutants and when you burn it, those pollutants either go up in the smoke stack or they end up in the coal ash," she said.   "These are pollutants that are cancer causing that cause a lot of serious health effects and hurt our environment."



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