Tag Archives: Ca

5/23/2012 The Durango Herald: Five groups ask court to halt coal mining Environmentalists say feds failed to consider cumulative impacts

5/23/2012 The Durango Herald: Five groups ask court to halt coal mining- Environmentalists say feds failed to consider cumulative impacts By Emery Cowan local environmental group is one of five organizations suing the federal government over its approval of a proposed expansion of the coal mine that supplies the Four Corners Power Plant in northern New Mexico. The lawsuit, filed last week, challenges the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement’s approval of a 714-acre expansion of the Navajo Coal Mine in northern New Mexico. The plaintiffs argue the federal agency did not evaluate the indirect and cumulative impacts of the mine expansion.

The extraction, combustion and waste disposal of the additional coal will cause the release of significant amounts of air and water pollution that will adversely affect the Four Corners and beyond, the lawsuit claims.

Coal ash disposal, dust accumulation, traffic and contamination of water sources are other potential environmental impacts, said Mike Eisenfeld, the New Mexico energy coordinator at the San Juan Citizens Alliance, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The office of surface mining “put on blinders to the cumulative reality of coal operations at the mine and the power plant,” Eisenfeld said.

The approval “hides the true magnitude of the damage caused by coal mining and combustion in our region and the risks of green-lighting more of the same with no change,” he said.

The groups argue the federal agency should pursue a more-detailed analysis of the environmental impacts of mine expansion.

Mine operator BHP Billington is willing to discuss with the environmental groups the cumulative environmental impacts, said Jac Fourie, president of BHP Billiton’s New Mexico Coal operations, according to news reports.

The 714-acre expansion is a scaled-down version of the company’s 2010 proposal to strip mine 3,800 acres on the same site.

A Colorado district judge ruled the Office of Surface Mining’s analysis of that proposal insufficient.

The current expansion proposal permits the company to extract 12.7 million tons of coal that will be burned at the Four Corners Power Plant.

“The two facilities are inextricably connected,” Eisenfeld said.

The mine needs the expansion permit to fulfill its contract with the power plant, he said.

The Four Corners Power Plant provides electricity to California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

It is the largest coal-fired power plant and the largest single source of nitrogen oxides in the country.

Recent regulations proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that target toxic pollutants would reduce the plant’s emissions by 87 percent.

ecowan@durangoherald.com

9/29/2011 U.S. EPA selects $70 million remedy for groundwater contamination removal at Omega Chemical Site

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2011 Contact: Francisco Arcaute, Cell (213) 798-1404 , arcaute.francisco@epa.gov U.S. EPA selects $70 million remedy for groundwater contamination removal at Omega Chemical Site Preventing Spread of 4.5 mile Contamination Plume is Primary Goal SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has selected an interim remedy to capture and treat groundwater contaminated by high concentrations of industrial solvents at the Omega Chemical Corporation Superfund Site in Whittier, Calif.  This cleanup is estimated to cost nearly $70 million over the life of the treatment system.

EPA selected this interim remedy to prevent the contaminated plume of groundwater from spreading further and threatening drinking water resources.  Once the groundwater has been extracted and treated, it is expected to be used for drinking water for the surrounding community.  EPA successfully extracts, treats, and provides for drinking more than 100 million gallons of water every day at several other Superfund sites in Southern California.

“EPA has taken a critical step forward at the Omega Chemical site to reverse the damage done to a vital resource in Southern California,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Drinking water aquifers are under a heavy strain, and this decision ensures their preservation, and the protection of local residents.”

Contamination from the former Omega Chemical facility on Whittier Boulevard has created a plume of contaminated groundwater containing trichlorethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), freons, and other solvents that extends approximately four and one-half miles to the south/southwest of the site. The plume lies beneath a large commercial/industrial area, and numerous facilities in this area have also contributed to the regional groundwater contamination.

The treated groundwater will meet or surpass drinking water standards, which the EPA expects will be provided to local water purveyors to serve in the surrounding community. The remedy also allows for reinjection of treated groundwater if agreements with water purveyors cannot be reached in a timely manner.

This is EPA’s second Record of Decision at the Omega Chemical Corporation Superfund Site. The first focused on contaminated groundwater and soils at the former facility, and is being implemented by a collection of private companies called Omega Chemical Site PRP Organized Group (OPOG).

For more information on the Omega Chemical site, including a copy of the Record of Decision, go to the EPA web site:   www.epa.gov/region09/OmegaChemical