While there are a number of different types of chemicals coming out of the stacks, it’s also important to note that the amount of power the plant produces has increased to 11,148 gigawatts of power, an 89 percent increase compared to the amount generated in 2005.
And while some emissions have been drastically reduced like mercury and nitrogen oxide, other chemicals like barium, ammonia and sulfuric acid are on the rise. The We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant also produced 11.27 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2014, a 73 percent increase compared to 2012 after it expanded the capacity on the site by 89 percent by adding two generating units. In total. Wisconsin had emissions of 38 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, but would be on track to produce 42.6 million tons by 2020.
We Energies maintains that its new coal-fire units are among the most efficient in the U.S. and its older units are among the most efficient in the Midwest. The amount of nitrogen oxide has decreased 96 percent, particulate matter decreased by 8 percent, volatile organic compounds decreased 25 percent and mercury decreased by 90 percent from 2014 to 2005, Manthey said.
“As a result they are emitting less CO2/unit of energy because of their efficiency,” Manthey said. “Additionally, since 2000 we have increased the generation capacity in our entire system by about 50 percent while cutting emissions (nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and particulate matter) by more than 80 percent.”
But characterizing the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant — or any other plant that uses scrubbers — as “clean” when a number of other pollutants are on the rise is cause for concern because the emissions are more toxic, said Dr. Alan H. Lockwood, who wrote a report titled Coals Assault On Human Health and a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
“How can you refer to a product, which when used as indicated, causes tens of thousands of deaths per year as clean?” He asked.
Coal, coal dust and fly ash have been known to contribute to a number of diseases including: Heart disease, certain types of cancers, respiratory diseases, and strokes, Lockwood said.
Click here to understand the health impact of these chemicals.
Over the past 10 years the plant has released over 30 chemicals. According to the EPA, here’s what tops the list: