Campaign targets Detroit River power plants (con't) 

The campaign also “aims to unmask DTE as one of the most coal-dependent utilities in the country,” the Club said in a news release.

It also says the plants dump “dangerous chemicals into Michigan’s waterways.”

The organization also says more than 1.6 million pounds of hazardous chemicals are release annually by “the many heavy industrial facilities” at River Rouge including the DTE plant.

The Sierra Club is also suing DTE Energy – the state’s largest electric utility – over “numerous violations” of so-called opacity limits intended to limit emissions of particulate matter and ensure proper function of pollution control equipment.

Opacity is the measure of the amount of light that is blocked by emissions; no visible smoke means opacity is zero percent, allowing all light to pass through.

The environmental group says the Trenton plant - the dual stacks of which can readily be seen from Amherstburg – based on 2010 emissions data, “is far and away one of the largest pollution sources” in Wayne County, Mi.

The plant released “more than 23,000 tons of sulphur dioxide emissions and more than 5,000 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions that contribute significantly to SW Ontario's smog problems,” says Club spokesman Brad Van Guilder.

It also has “large emissions” of fine particulate matter “which can be breathed deep into the lungs to contribute to worsening respiratory and cardiovascular health.”

Van Guilder said the violations at the Trenton Channel plant “stands out for problems of pollution control equipment and process operations.

“DTE Energy hurts the health of residents on both sides of the international border and should engage in an openly planned closure of the Trenton Channel plant.

But the company says it has vastly improved its emissions reduction and calls the Sierra Club’s 2010 data dated.

Spokeswoman Randi Barris says the utility has “reduced particulate emissions by more than 90 per cent and our nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 75 percent” and has plans to further reduce both “by an additional 85 per cent” within “just the next few years.”

“Unlike the Sierra Club, which doesn’t seem to care about financial impacts on our customers, we are committed to the growth of zero- and less-emitting generation in a way that minimizes the financial impact on our customers and in a way that supports Michigan’s economy,” she says.

Barris said the company also has “significantly reduced the number and duration” of opacity violations and in 2012 was in compliance “more than 99 per cent.”

Barris said DTE has spent $2 billion over 10 years for emission controls and plans to spend another up to $2 billion to meet new regulations.

The effect of US coal-burning plants on southwestern Ontarians’ health has long been an issue.

A 2006 petition filed with to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency launched by Canadian environmental groups, including Sierra Legal Defence Fund, claimed “the mortality rate from dirty air is twice as high (in Windsor) as the next highest ranked city, Toronto.”

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