(Memphis) – The Shelby County Health Department held a public hearing over the permit renewal for the Allen Fossil Plant. The Health Department told a large crowd that the coal plant is running within all the legal limits so they won’t be denying the permit.
Still, people voiced their concerns saying the plant threatens their health.
“I came to represent the face of the elderly,” Ann Sandberg said.
For Ann Sandberg, pollution is personal.
“I’ve ended up in the emergency room and in the hospital by breathing polluted air,” she said. “My cardiologist told me that you have got to stay inside or you may want to consider relocating to a place the pollution isn`t so bad.”
The Shelby County Health Department calls the Allen Plant the city’s biggest polluter.
“Now that we are in 2013 we must find safer cleaner energy sources that don’t make people sick,” Rita Harris with the Sierra Club said.
Shelby County Health Department records show the Tennessee Valley Authority reduced emissions at the Allen plant more than 70 percent since 1998.
Since the health department won’t deny the permit, environmental attorneys told the department they want tougher language in the permit to make sure any new EPA standards will be followed.
The TVA said it has always stayed in compliance.
“We continue to meet have met since 2000 all state and federal regulations and if they get stricter we will continue to meet them,” TVA spokesperson Chris Stanley said.
Stanley added in 2018 because of an environmental agreement, the plant will have to become cleaner. The plant will either get new equipment or retire the coal fired units and change its focus to a different kind of energy.
One of those options would be natural gas.
“We are going to have a study that will begin soon. That will show us what’s best to do with that,” Stanley said.
The Sierra Club said instead of retrofitting the equipment to keep the coal fired units, TVA should spend the money on helping older homes become more energy efficient.
The group also called on the TVA to focus on cleaner energy like solar.
The TVA said that would be a challenge because in order to generate enough power to match what is produced at the Allen plant right now, the TVA would have to build a solar farm one and a half times the size of Bartlett.