Unsealed: Dept. of Justice Document Reveals the Federal Case against Luminant Coal Plants

DALLAS, TX–(ENEWSPF)–November 25, 2013.  For the first time, a newly unveiled document details Department of Justice Clean Air Act complaints against Luminant Generating Company. The previously sealed information comes as part of an enforcement case filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency against Luminant, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings. Earlier this August, DOJ filed suit in  federal court alleging violations of the Clean Air Act at two coal-burning power plants owned by Luminant and Energy Future Holdings (EFH).The claims were filed “under seal” because of Luminant’s assertions that portions of the government’s case could reveal confidential trade secrets.

This week the DOJ released a public version of the complaint revealing nearly all of its claims. According to the claims, Luminant made “major modifications” at its Big Brown and Martin Lake coal plants that increased sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. The Clean Air Act requires polluters to obtain permits and install modern pollution controls before modifying a coal plant in a way that will increase emissions. The unsealed complaint alleges that Luminant made major modifications at all three coal-burning units at the Martin Lake power plant and one unit at the Big Brown power plant without updating air pollution permits or installing pollution safeguards.

“The more information the public can learn about Luminant’s refusal to clean up their act, the better.” said Nia Martin-Robinson, organizer with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “People living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and in East Texas have suffered from too many bad air days because of coal pollution. Our children and our seniors are most at risk from soot and smog and deserve to breathe clean, healthy air.”

New details include allegations that:

Luminant made major modifications to Units 1, 2, and 3 at their Martin Lake coal plant in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 and continues to operate the plant without installing pollution controls for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides (Pages 3, 19, 21, 22, 24, 28);

Luminant made major modifications to Unit 2 at the Big Brown coal plant in 2005 and continues to operate the plant without installing pollution controls for sulfur dioxide (Pages 3, 30);

Luminant has improperly withheld information from the government requested by EPA under Section 114(a) of the Clean Air Act (Page 4).

The DOJ and EPA are asking the federal court to order Luminant to:

Install pollution controls at the Martin Lake and Big Brown coal plants (Page 37);

Apply for new permits (Pages 37, 38);

Conduct an audit to determine if other NSR violations are occurring at Luminant plants (Page 38);

Turn over improperly withheld documents to EPA and DOJ (Page 38);

Pay a civil penalty of up to $32,500/37,500 per day since the dates of violations, some of which began in 2005 (Page 38);

Cover the government’s legal costs of bringing the enforcement action (Page 38).

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) pollution is harmful to human health and can cause respiratory illnesses and trigger asthma attacks. Sulfur dioxide pollution combines with nitrogen oxide pollution to form soot, or particulate matter, which poses additional serious threats to human health. The Martin Lake and Big Brown coal plants are the largest two sources of sulfur dioxide pollution in Texas, and the Martin Lake plant is also the largest source of nitrogen oxides pollution statewide.

“Coal is outdated, dirty and represents Texas’s past,” continued Martin-Robinson. “From ‘do not eat’ mercury advisories for fish in Texas streams to the red and orange smog days in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Tyler, Texans have suffered from coal pollution for too long. It’s time to move beyond coal. We have a responsibility to our kids to protect their environment and to develop an economy with clean energy jobs that will power our future.”

View the federal enforcement complaint filed by DOJ here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4CATODnZYmDTXVsdjNrWU5KSk0/edit?usp=sharing

Source: sierraclub.org