In what appears to be a major victory for clean air and water activists, the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) has announced that it has suspended its attempts to obtain permits for what would be the largest coal-fired power plant ever built in Virginia, the proposed Cypress Creek plant in Dendron.
“New regulations proposed by the U.S. EPA, as well as changes in market conditions, have led ODEC to suspend permitting activity for Cypress Creek for the time being,” Mary Howell, ODEC’s manager of public relations, wrote in a statement emailed today. “ODEC is presently evaluating alternative sources of power supply.”
If, in fact, ODEC decides to drop the plans to build the 1,500 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Surry County, Virginia, that would mean cleaner water for the Chesapeake Bay, and cleaner air for the entire Mid-Atlantic region, including the Hampton Roads metropolitan area.
A report released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation last year projected that particulate air pollution from the plant would cause an estimated additional 26 premature deaths a year across the region, as well as 442 annual asthma attacks, and 3,340 work days lost to sickness every year.
The proposed coal-burning plant would also worsen ground-level ozone in the region, and release up to 44 pounds of toxic mercury every year, and 921 pounds of lead, as well as 6,800 pounds of carcinogenic benzene, according to the report.
So far, at least three municipalties in southeastern Virginia have expressed opposition to the proposed plant, including Isle of Wight and Southampton Counties and the City of Norfolk.
By Tom Pelton
Chesapeake Bay Foundation