Conservation Groups File Clean Air Lawsuit To Clean Up Aging TVA Power Plants in Tennessee, Alabama

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   February 14, 2001
Contact:   Don Barger, NPCA Southeast Regional Director, 865-457-7775
Dave Muhly, Sierra Club National Field Staff, 540-688-2190


Conservation Groups File Clean Air Lawsuit To Clean Up Aging TVA Power Plants in Tennessee, Alabama

Clinton, TN - The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and the Sierra Club today announced they have filed two citizen suits against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for illegally emitting thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides every year. The groups allege that TVA made major modifications at two power plants - Bull Run in Clinton, Tennessee, and Colbert in Tuscumbia, Alabama - without bringing pollution controls up to required standards. Scientific evidence links this air pollution to numerous health problems, visibility degradation, and plant damage in Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, and other national parks in the eastern United States.

"TVA has been conducting its business for decades in violation of the Clean Air Act to the detriment of our health and the environment," said NPCA President Tom Kiernan. "Air pollution in the parks has gotten steadily worse, and these old plants are the single biggest contributors to the problem."

The installation of modern pollution controls will allow the TVA plants to continue generating electricity, but at significantly reduced pollution levels. According to Dominion Power in northern Virginia, its ability to operate eight power plants profitably will not be adversely affected by an agreement to add $1.2 billion in pollution controls to settle a similar lawsuit with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Electricity generation does not have to trash our health and our environment," said Dave Muhly of the Sierra Club's national field staff. "We look forward to the day when America's children can breathe freely and see clearly the treasures our environment provides."

Research has documented that Alabama ranks second in the nation and Tennessee third in per capita deaths attributable to power plant emissions. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, named to NPCA's list of the Ten Most Endangered Parks of 2000, suffers ozone pollution problems that rival major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta. Power plant emissions are recognized as causing both degraded visibility and damage to plant life in the park.

"For far too long our families' health and the future of our environment have been held hostage by TVA and other utilities," said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. "It's time to clear the air."

According to the NPCA/Sierra Club complaints, TVA's failure to comply with the Clean Air Act at its Bull Run and Colbert power plants has caused the unnecessary emission of approximately 1.1 million tons of sulfur dioxide and 316,000 tons of nitrogen oxides over the last 18 years. The complaints seek court orders requiring TVA to install state-of-the-art pollution-control equipment at the Bull Run and Colbert facilities.

Under the Clean Air Act, once an existing grandfathered power plant is modified and its emissions increase, it must install the most current pollution-control technology. According to NPCA and the Sierra Club, TVA failed to comply with this requirement.

"Burning coal is dirty business," said Don Barger, NPCA Southeast Regional Director. "TVA must look at all its pollution, not just one kind. As TVA lays out its strategy for future power production, clean breathable air must be a basic requirement, not an optional consideration."

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