InterGen Chastised for Border Plant’s Lack of Pollution Controls

By Published On: January 10, 2004

US Senator Dianne Feinstein fired off a letter to InterGen?s chief financial officer this week castigating him for allowing the company?s brand-new Mexican power plant to run without air pollution controls on both export turbines. ?It was always our understanding . . . that InterGen La Rosita energy facility?s two turbines servicing the California market would be outfitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction technology,” Feinstein said in a January 9th letter to InterGen head Marvin Odum. ?Further, it is our understanding that there are no plans to install the technology until the end of March, 2004.? The letter was also signed by Republican Congress member Duncan Hunter. Feinstein noted that after InterGen promised to install selective catalytic reduction (SCR) on its new Rosita plant prior to coming on line, she and fellow Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer withdrew their legislation that would have required power plants built in Mexico?and delivering power to the north?to meet California air-quality standards. InterGen, which is a joint venture between Bechtel and Royal Dutch Shell, fired up its 1,065 MW plant last year. Along with Sempra?s new 600 MW Mexican power plant, InterGen?s plant is involved in a suit brought by a group of environmental organizations that successfully challenged the federal government?s cross-border power line permitting (see <i>Energy Circuit</i>, November 21). Last year, a federal judge found the Department of Energy?s environmental analysis of the power projects? impacts deficient but did not force the plants to shut down while the federal energy agency carried out a full-blown environmental analysis. According to the government?s records cited in the case, a turbine with SCRs emits 4 parts per million of nitrogen oxides, a precursor to ozone. Without the air-quality control, the emission level is 25 ppm of NOx. ?The permit for the turbine without SCRs has to be pulled,? said Marcello Mollo, an attorney with Earthjustice who represents activists on both sides of the border. Calls to InterGen were not returned by press time.

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