People of Trenton in New Jersey are sure to be a joyful lot. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated measures towards considerably reducing the air pollution caused by the GenOn Energy power plant in Portland. The coal-fired power plant expels over 30,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), plus mercury and many other contaminants into the air across the Delaware River. This plant has also been threatening air quality of the citizens of Morris, Sussex and Hunterdon counties along with its direct impact on Warren County.
The situation has turned critical, causing public health and environmental problems. The Pennsylvania energy power plant is one of the top SO2 generating plants and emits mercury more than what the NJ power plants emit.
The Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) air monitoring station situated close to the power plant had recently marked highest short-term sulfur dioxide levels in New Jersey emanating from the Portland generation station.
SO2 is considered very degrading to the environmental and potentially causes a range of adverse health effects, counting asthma and respiratory failure, and ecological impacts such as acid rain. The plant is also reported as discharging elevated levels of nitrogen oxides, mercury, hydrochloric acid, lead and other air pollutants, including fine sulfate particles.
With the new measures being taken to quell the menace, Governor Chris Christie has lauded the actions saying that the steps would ensure good health for the citizens. The Christie Administration’s Section 126 Petition, filed in March 2010, was speedily okayed by the federal agency, presuming the urgency of the situation. This has demanded the Portland Generating Station to considerably cut its SO2 emissions within three years, a major part of it within a year’s time.
The EPA has solicited the power plant to slash down dangerous emissions by 60 percent within one year, while they have been given a period of 3 years to ensure an 81 percent drop.
This time gap is provided for the power plant to opt for the most cost-effective strategy for meeting the restrictions, including installing proven and widely available pollution control technologies.
Many modern air pollution controls, including a scrubber, could be seen being brought in so as to substantially reduce the Portland plant’s emissions.
The Governor has expressed satisfaction at the approval of New Jersey’s Clean Air Act petition, terming it a major step towards significantly reducing huge volumes of harmful air pollutants.