[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

Re: E-M:/ the Tondu saga

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

On the issue of the Manistee Lake coal-fired electric power plant  AKA
Tondu Energy Systems, Michigan Municipal Power Authority,
Manistee Saltworks Development Corporation, Northern Lights
Project, etc. etc. etc.

The Manistee municipal site development  approval is not the only thing 
that may be delayed, as per the article that Monica mentions.

It appears now that the air discharge permit for the facility may
also be delayed.   Previously, there was a 120 day clock running
for issuance of an air permit after MDEQ Air Division had initially
determined that a technically complete application had been
submitted as of January 6, 2004.   Remarkably, that determination
had been made notwithstanding the failure of the applicant to
submit a human health and environmental acceptability analysis
for mercury emissions.

Previously, the thought process was that the MDEQ Air Division
would perform such an analysis rather than asking the applicant to do

However, on March 16, MDEQ finally said that the applicant would be
required to perform a multipathway risk assessment for both mercury
and chlorinated dibenzo-dioxins.   The Air Quality Division Chief, Vince
Hellwig (former EPA official that Russ Harding brought in from North 
Carolina) said yesterday that the 120 day clock has stopped with the 
request for the applicant to
do the risk assessment.

For toxicants, the scope of the assessment, however, is subject to some 
question.   MDEQ has no rules on how such an assessment on non-inhalation 
impact is to be done.   Current plans for human health risk assessment are 
to only evaluate the inhalation and  frequent fish eater (only for Manistee 
Lake) pathways for mercury.   For chlorinated dibenzodioxin/furan impact, 
only the area resident, fisher and
farmer scenarios would be evaluated.  For lead, only the resident child
pathway would be evaluated.   No non-inhalation pathway health/ecological 
risk assessment is planned for the nearly one half ton of arsenic that the 
plant has a potential to emit annually.

Plans for ecological risk assessment will only address the ability of 
deposited mercury from the  plant plus background to affect compliance with 
the existing water quality standard for fish eating wildlife.   This type 
of analysis will not consider potential buildup of mercury compounds in the 
lake over time and will not consider all aspects of the mercury 
bioconversion cycle that takes place in biological systems.   Nor is it 
presently clear that deposition and contributions from the entire Manistee 
Lake watersheds will be considered.

There would be no ecological risk assessment of chlorinated dibenzo
dioxin impacts.

There would be no integrated human health and ecological risk assessment of 
the combined impact of what is planned at this site, including emissions 
and air deposition, dredging of Manistee Lake and other disturbances of the 
Lake bottom, increased lake shipping traffic from boat coal 
deliveries.   At least for  ecological risks this is the kind of analysis 
required under the Endangered Species Act for the eagles that use Manistee 
Lake for hunting.   No analysis is planned for impact on lake sturgeon 
populations which are rare but occur in Manistee Lake.    MDEQ Air Division 
is not planning to quantify or review any issues of deposition of toxicants 
into Lake Michigan.

The Granholm Administration is  claiming it doesn't have
any responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act to protect
eagles near Manistee Lake as it proceeds to issue a federally
delegated air discharge permit under the Clean Air Act and takes
other actions and inactions (such as the failure of the MDEQ
Environmental Response Division to require a complete site
survey of the plant site for brine contamination from past
brine operations, chromium from past tannery operations, and
the potential for these pollutants to be transported with groundwater
flow to Manistee Lake....and the potential to eliminate cleanup
options/measures as the new power plant is constructed).

Even as the Granholm Administration says it doesn't have the responsibility 
to deal with the Endangered Species Act when it issues what is essentially 
a federal permit, the Bush Administration is taking the position in a 
recent case in Illinois involving EPA Region V that it doesn't have the 
ability to invoke the Endangered Species Act for state delegated permits 
[same situation in Michigan] where it lacks "discretionary 
authority."   This even as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
officers privately admit that EPA Region V has a poor record of seeking 
required Endangered Species Act consultations compared to even the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers offices in Michigan which the FWS officers say has 
a better record for
ESA matters.

The Granholm Administration is not planning to require the applicant to 
show, or to make its own showing, on the impact of the plant on attainment 
and maintenance of the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard in 
downwind areas or the effect of the plant on the Benzie County 
nonattainment area that EPA is expected to announce by April 15, 
2004.   MDEQ isn't planning  on enforcing a clear requirement of clean air 
act regulations requiring that preconstruction air quality monitoring be 
performed for sulfur dioxide and particulate matter when predicted impact 
exceed listed thresholds.
The  Granholm Administration actually paved the way for permitting the coal 
plant in Manistee when it failed to include Manistee County in its 
proposals for nonattainment areas for ozone in late 2003 merely on the 
basis that there  was no ozone monitor in Manistee County.....  a site 
receiving overwhelming ozone transport from Chicago where ozone violations 
and proposed nonattainment designations show for the county to the north 
(Benzie) and to the south (Mason) where there are monitors.   Wisconsin has 
about 3 times the number of shoreline zone monitors as Michigan and it will 
be nonattainment from Racine to the Door Peninsula.

MDEQ is not planning to  require the applicant to show, or to make its own 
showing, of the plant's impact on visibility at the Sleeping Bear Dunes 
National Lakeshore.   Although the Lakeshore is not a "class I prevention 
of significant deterioration area" where such analysis is absolutely 
required, there can be no doubt by anyone who has ever visited the 
Lakeshore that visibility is an important air quality related

MDEQ's Air Division Chief Hellwig is taking the position that environmental 
concerns over the plant's emissions of non-PSD and unregulated toxicants 
will not be a part of the environmental analysis required by the best 
available control technology  determination process. ....notwithstanding 
the nearly half ton of arsenic the plant with discharge annually and recent 
case law.   Hellwig said recently that the Air Division hasn't addressed 
requirements to consider the Michigan Environmental Protection Act 
provisions of the NREPA act, even though consideration of those provisions 
were key to the re-evaluation of emission controls done by the MDNR on the 
Detroit Incinerator nearly 20 years ago and such MEPA requirements have 
been maintained in continuing force and effect since 1970.

MDEQ is apparently not going to require the applicant to submit a complete, 
top-down best available control technology demonstration for all emission 
units at the plant, since the existing deficient application was deemed 
complete as to assessment of technology-based control technology 
requirements as of January 6, 2004.

While Hellwig says that MDEQ doesn't have the authority to deal with
the contributions of the plant's elemental mercury emissions to global 
pollution, one plan being considered as a palliative is an attempt to have 
the applicant collect mercury switches and other mercury devices as an 
"offset" for mercury emissions from the plant.   This would be instead of 
requiring mercury emission reductions from other
area stack emission sources near Manistee Lake that likely discharge more 
biologically available forms of mercury.

MDEQ isn't planning any multi-media analysis of the Tondu plant.  In fact, 
MDEQ Water Division is on the verge of making that problem worse.   Tondu 
is planning on  mixing flyash from the new plant with municipal solid waste 
in a landfill that sends its landfill leachate to the Packaging Corporation 
of America wastewater  system and discharge.   The Granholm Administration 
wants to issue PCA a permit with no effluent limitations for color 
pollution and mercury, even though Manistee Lake is listed as an impaired 
lake for mercury.   The Granholm Administration is also denying a request 
for a public hearing on this permit, which is blatantly illegal under the 
Clean Water Act.   Because the pH of the mixture of mercury-bearing flyash 
and municipal solid waste cannot be assured, there can be no assurance that 
mercury contained in that flyash will not be mobilized at the landfill to 
the leachate.

These kinds of environmental problems and impacts going unreviewed is 
direct result of the failure of the State of Michigan under both Engler and 
Granholm to have an environmental impact review process for major state 
decisions like issuance of the permit for the Manistee Lake coal plant.

At 0132 AM 03/28/2004, you wrote

The following article is in today's Traverse City Record Eagle.  After 
attending Thursday night's Manistee City Planning Commission meeting, I 
(re)learned some very important lessons

*Never be so smug as to assume you know what the outcome will be.

*Always give people the benefit of the doubt (Mom was right), they may just 
surprise you.

*Expect the unexpected, and be grateful for it

*Roller Coaster rides, while terrifying, can be really fun and exhilarating

*Patience and perseverance are two really important virtues

*Always rememberit ain't over til it's over


~Monica Evans, Traverse Group of the Sierra Club

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"