Duke's Cliffside Power Plant
Duke is proposing to build a new coal-fired unit at its Cliffside Steam Station near the border of NC and SC. Although the proposed unit is located in the Broad River basin, the emissions from the powerplant would have a significant impact on the Catawba-Wateree River basin because the Catawba-Wateree River basin is downwind from the proposed unit.
The Catawba Riverkeeper® and other parties challenging the Cliffside Powerplant are continuing to wait for a judge to rule on motions to dismiss that were filed in September 2008 and argued before the judge in November 2008. The Riverkeeper’s® primary argument is that the proposed permit fails to include the stringent mercury controls required by the Clean Air Act. A ruling is anticipated any day.
Efforts to challenge the Cliffside plant and other coal-fired powerplants also have been proceeding. Federal courts and a growing list of state governors are taking action to stop new coal plants. One reason is that mining for coal has buried or polluted 1,200 miles of pristine headwater streams in the Appalachians, devastating communities that depend on them for clean water. Furthermore, the recent spill of ash sludge in Tennessee has prompted a closer look at the sludge ponds at hundreds of power plants across the nation, including three coal-fired powerplants on the Catawba River. The ash in these ponds contain potentially dangerous levels of hazardous materials including heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury. Ironically, plants employing better air pollution controls tend to have the most toxic ash waste.
The Catawba Riverkeeper® is asking Duke Power to stop construction of the $2.4 billion Cliffside Plant until the courts can rule on whether the plant should be required to comply with the MACT requirements of the Clean Air Act. Duke’s own estimates show that there is no urgent need for the power. Duke now argues that there the new plant will meet the MACT requirements, but Duke continues to fight including the MACT limits in its air permit. Assuming that the facility will comply with the MACT limits, the Catawba Riverkeeper® is also asking Duke and the North Carolina regulators to include the MACT mercury limits in Duke’s air permit as an enforceable requirement.