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LETTER: Is Brunner Island getting a pass?
Why has every coal fired plant in Pennsylvania installed SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) technology and York County's Brunner Island has not? With the prevailing winds coming from the west, Brunner Island is responsible for much of the pollution that we breathe in Lancaster County. So much so, that Lancaster County has its own pollution classification by the state.
As a newly appointed member of the Citizen's Advisory Council for the Department of Environmental Protection, I was able to witness some inside debate about Brunner Island at the agency yesterday. As you might expect, it's complicated. Many council members felt that not having to install this system gives them a cost advantage when competing against the other coal-fired plants. The DEP has determined the reasonable cost to Talen Energy to be $2,800 per ton, while Talen says it would cost it $4,500 per ton to comply.
Talen isn't being required to use the best technology or the most effective, only what is on the market, tested and reasonably priced. Brunner Island currently produces more than three times the pollutants that western Pennsylvania plants do. As written in this paper last April, Talen is only spending money at the plant to add natural gas burners, it will not be closing any of the coal fired plants. Talen will only make minor adjustments to the coal fired plants with the aim of slightly reducing mercury emissions.
The DEP is holding an open listening session for the public in York on Oct. 5. Details are on their website. If cleaner air is important to you, I suggest you attend.