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For Immediate Release, August 24, 2009

Contact: Vera Pardee, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9683 x 317
James Gignac, Sierra Club, (312) 251-1680 x 147

TVA's Kentucky "Paradise" Coal-fired Plant Operating Permit Fails to Comply With the Clean Air Act

WASHINGTON— In response to a petition filed in December 2007 by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Kentucky Heartwood, and two individual petitioners, Preston Forsythe and Hilary Lambert, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that the permit under which TVA is operating its “Paradise” coal-fired power plant contains significant deficiencies. The Kentucky Division for Air Quality must now determine whether modifications TVA made to the plant as early as 1984 require new regulations of its emissions of nitrogen oxide, or NOx, an air pollutant that causes significant adverse health effects, including emergency visits, hospital admissions, and mortality resulting from asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, and other respiratory illnesses.

Beginning in 1984, TVA made modifications to three Paradise coal-fired boiler units but claimed these were simply routine equipment maintenance or repairs exempt from a preconstruction permit or compliance with regulations limiting NOx emissions. The Center for Biological Diversity and other petitioners maintained that the alterations in fact constitute major modifications that require TVA to undergo a full air-quality review to ensure the Paradise Plant uses the best available control technology to limit its NOx emissions. EPA sided with the petitioners, finding that the Kentucky Division for Air Quality had illegally ignored their comments. The Kentucky agency must now go back and determine the true nature of these modifications. EPA also found that TVA’s Paradise permit fails to require adequate monitoring of air opacity, NOx, and soot (particulate matter) emissions.

“We challenged the operating permit for this highly polluting coal-fired facility and are gratified to see that EPA is finally beginning to tighten TVA’s emission requirements, although much more can and should be done,” said Vera Pardee, senior attorney with the Center of Biological Diversity. “Coal-fired power is also the single largest contributor to devastating global warming. Coal-fired power plants should be quickly phased out and replaced by renewable energy sources.”

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