The Caledonia Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that We Energies install an air monitoring station about a mile from the Oak Creek Power Plant.

The Planning Commission’s recommendation will now be forwarded to the Caledonia Village Board for possible approval on Monday, Dec. 7. We Energies came forward with the proposal after a number of neighbors complained that coal dust and fly ash from the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant was making them sick.

Planning Commission member Bill Folk said the air monitoring station is similar to one We Energies had installed on the south side of the power plant but was later removed.

“The air is monitored by a third-party,” Folk said. “But I didn’t recall there being one on the south side. Still, they have one on north side.”

Plans for building the 24-foot by 32-foot air quality station, which would be built on the north side of 7 Mile Road near the railroad tracks, have been submitted to the Racine County Planning and Development Department.

“The goal is to capture particulate matter data from the test station and to provide it to the public,” said Brian Manthey, spokesman for We Energies. “We hope to have the site operational by the end of the year or early next year.”

Racine County Eye learned that of the 34 families (some have multiple family members) that have health issues, 30 people in the group either have or died of cancer. The list includes people with cancer of the lung, breast, prostate, ovaries, pancreas, brain, skin and bone marrow. Over 20 people reported having asthma and a handful of people have atrial fibrillation, chronic sinusitis, bronchitis, COPD, pneumonia, Crohn’s Disease, stomach and heart issues.

The We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant included four generating units in 2005, but an expansion completed in 2012 added two more generating units, which increased the generating capacity on the site by 89 percent.

Since the expansion, greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide increased to 11,277,000 metric tons, an 89 percent increase compared to 2005. With that said, nitrogen oxide decreased 96 percent, particulate matter decreased by 8 percent, volatile organic compounds decreased 25 percent and mercury decreased by 90 percent.

The building permit is contingent on the village board approving the project. If approved, the project is expected to begin as soon as possible.

 

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.