Regional Air Quality Authority Calls for Closer Monitoring of Mirant Power Plant

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Regional Air Quality Authority Calls for Closer Monitoring of Mirant Power Plant

The Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC) adopted a resolution addressing concerns expressed by residents and the City of Alexandria regarding fine particle emissions from the Potomac River Generating Station (Mirant Plant). The Mirant Plant is owned and operated by the Mirant Power Company. At its March 7 meeting, MWAQC adopted a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to track and reduce emissions of fine particulate matter. Studies have demonstrated that the emissions are a virtually invisible pollutant with the ability to penetrate deep into human lungs and are a particularly dangerous form of emissions from coal-fired power plants. 

At the request of the City of Alexandria, the resolution adopting the SIP also requests Mirant to conduct an ambient air quality analysis. The City of Alexandria and its residents have long argued for this type of local analysis of emissions from the Mirant Plant.

“The Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee has taken a responsible, reasonable approach to addressing the concerns of residents of Alexandria and the region,” said Mayor William D. Euille. “Members of our community were the first to raise concerns about the emissions from the Mirant Plant.”

MWAQC was created by Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC in order to prepare regional air quality plans to provide for attainment of federal air pollution standards for the region. In January 2005, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated the region a “non-attainment” area for annual fine particulate matter emissions. As a result of the designation, each government was required to develop a plan to reach the attainment level and submit plans to EPA by April 5, 2008.

The resolution adopted by MWAQC also includes language proposed by the City that addresses the issue of the visible smoke and dust from power plant operations and emissions by requesting the Virginia Air Board tighten Virginia’s standards. “This is an extremely important issue for our residents,” said Vice Mayor Redella S. “Del” Pepper, Alexandria’s representative to the MWAQC.

A new monitor will be installed and operated by the Department of Environmental Quality. The state agency also will form a workgroup of stakeholders, including the City of Alexandria, to develop a methodology for performing the necessary analysis.