February 28, 2002
Diana Andrews Division for Air Quality 803 Schenkel Lane Frankfort KY 40601
By fax and e-mail
Re: Thoroughbred Energy Coal-fired Electric Generating Unit
Dear Ms. Andrews:
These comments are submitted on behalf of the membership of the Kentucky Resources Council, Inc., a non-profit membership-based organization incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and dedicated to prudent use and conservation of the natural resources of the Commonwealth.
The Council has reviewed the correspondence that has been transmitted to the Kentucky Division for Air Quality (DAQ) by the National Park Service and Mammoth Cave National Park, and the Jefferson County (KY) Air Pollution Control District, and endorses those comments and incorporates them by reference as if fully set forth below. Without limitation, the Council incorporates the Department of Interior letters of February 14, 2002 and accompanying analysis and comments, and January 31, 2002, and the NPS letters of January 10, 2001; April 27, 2001; and December 5, 2001, and three research papers reflecting the potential impacts of ozone and mercury levels on karst biota and federally listed species: Carson, Potential Ecological Effects of Increased Ozone Levels On Federally Listed and Sensitive Species; and Helf, Mercury and Methylmercury in the South Central Kentucky Karst: Its Transportation, Accumulation and Potential Effects on Vulnerable Biota, and Olson, Ecological Effects of cid Deposition and Nitrogen Enrichment on Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems In Mammoth Cave National Park. . After review of those comments and the permit application and other material contained in the permit application file, the Council requests that particular consideration be given to these issues, in addition to those raised by other commenters:
1. Coal Washing Should Be Re-evaluated as part of the Best Available Control Technology determination for control of sulfur compounds. The Council is advised that one of the TVA coal-fired baseload plants in western Kentucky, combusting a fuel of similar composition and generating energy under baseload conditions, washes its coal. If the NPS calculations are correct, coal washing prior to introduction of the coal into the combustion process could reduce the sulfur content of the coal by "up to 60 percent, which would result in nearly a 6,400 TPY reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions and eliminate our adverse impact concerns."
Technology exists and is apparently in use in cleaning western Kentucky coal prior to combustion, and should be seriously evaluated for use in this facility. In assessing the economic feasibility of imposition of this or other controls, the DAQ should include consideration of the preferential tax credits that are allotted for combustion of Kentucky coal, which we understand to be $2 per ton, and which allow additional flexibility to offset costs associated with cleaning the higher sulfur coal.
Coal wastes generated by the washing are capable of management through incised ponds, dry filter press technology, and other methods to control environmental impacts, and wash water can be decanted, treated and reused to minimize water demands and disposal consequences.
2. The comment period should be extended by another 60 days in order to allow the National Park Service time to complete assessment of the revised modeling analysis. As evidenced in the February 14, 2002 letter from the U.S. Department of Interior to your agency, the NPS has not had sufficient time to evaluate the new modeling analysis prepared by the project consultants and received by the NPS on February 6, 2002. The NPS review of the previously provided material reflected, according to that agency's analysis, that there would be perceptible visibility impacts on the Mammoth Cave National Park for 23 days each year. NPS is reviewing the revised information, and that agency's determination will weigh significantly on the final DAQ determination to issue the permit.
In order to allow for meaningful review and comment by NPS, and to allow the public to review the NPS assessment of the revised modeling, the comment period on this permit should be extended by another 60 days, or the draft permit withdrawn and reissued after the NPS assessment is completed. Neither the agency nor the public should be required to assess and comment on information that is a "moving target."
3. Proposed monitoring for compliance with opacity, fluorides, mercury, beryllium and PM should be improved in both sophistication and frequency as suggested by the Jefferson County Air Pollution Control District in its letter of January 23, 2002. That letter and all comments contained therein are incorporated by reference as if set forth below.
4. 401 KAR 63:020 applies to each facility that "emits or may emit potentially hazardous matter or toxic substances", which are defined as "matter that may be harmful to the health and welfare of humans, animals, and plants[.]"
The regulation requires that persons "responsible for a source from which hazardous matter or toxic substances may be emitted shall provide the utmost care and consideration, in the handling of these materials, to the potentially harmful effects of the emissions resulting from such activities. No owner or operator shall allow any affected facility to emit potentially hazardous matter or toxic substances in such quantities or duration as to be harmful to he health and welfare of humans, animals, and plants."
That same regulation provides that the Cabinet will make a determination as to the adequacy of controls and procedures and emission potential on an individual basis.
The Council believes that the DAQ is required by this regulation to assess the potential of the proposed project to emit mercury and mercury compounds, and other metals and compounds of concern, including a fate and transport assessment for the mercury compounds and other identified air toxics, in order to support a determination of appropriate controls. While controls proposed for criteria pollutants have the effect of capturing a fraction of some of the hazardous pollutants of concern, assessment of the potential and actual emissions of mercury and other hazardous matter and toxic substances should be conducted to determine human and ecological risks and the necessity of additional controls. Particularly in light of the concerns voiced by the NPS regarding potential impacts on federally protected species from mercury and other pollutants, 401 KAR 63:021 requires a thorough assessment during permit review for all toxic and hazardous pollutants associated with coal combustion.
5. Given the determination by the NPS that there is a potential adverse effect on federally-protected species from the projected emissions, formal consultation should be requested from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to secure concurrence from that agency that there will be no adverse effect on such species.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments. If you do not have on file any of the referenced letters and research papers, please notify the Council and they will be provided.
Tom FitzGerald Director