Breaking News: Birdsboro Power, LLC is suing the federal government to pay the costs of cleaning up contamination on the power plant site. According to court documents, the company claims that, “Recent analyses and surveys have demonstrated significant remaining contamination of PCBs and other hazardous substances at the site.”
Some of the specific issues mentioned in the suit include asbestos materials in 16 buildings, unspecified hazardous materials located throughout the site, PCBs and other unspecified contaminants at levels higher than state health standards, and PCB-, VOC-, and SVOC-laced water in sumps and pits at levels higher than state health standards.
Berks Gas Truth issued a press release and submitted copies of the court filing and the release to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the DEP. The public comment period on FERC’s Environmental Assessment of the DTE pipeline ends on Friday. Our request for an extension has been ignored to date. DEP is preparing to issue the water quality certificates necessary for final approval.
We held an emergency conference call to discuss actions we can take quickly. Here’s what we came up with.
1) Let Karen Feridun know if you are available to do a noontime rally at Judy Schwank’s office on George St. off the 5th St. Highway and indicate if there are days in the next two weeks that work better for you than others.
2) Write Letters to the Editor. Some suggested talking points:
DEP and FERC must reject the authorizations (DEP – water quality permits; FERC – Certificate of Public Convenience).
Even though they regard the power plant and pipeline as separate projects, the pipeline would only exist to serve the power plant and it would terminate on the site, causing disturbance of land that is, but Birdsboro Power’ own admission, quite contaminated.
A worker has already been injured after exposure to chlorine gas from a leaking canister found on the site. In the name of worker safety, all of the work already being done on a project that has received final approval must stop.
One of the striking things about the Birdsboro site is how close it is to residences — as close as 200 ft. That makes the presence of contaminants and the lack of transparency about their existence even more unacceptable.
We are looking to our elected officials to support our efforts to protect our health, safety, and environment.
3) Sign-on to a letter to legislators here: https://docs.google.com/
4) Submit comments to the FERC docket, CP17-409 before COB on Friday. See attached instructions for using FERC website in this process. FERC needs to hear from all of us!
5) Contact John Repetz at DEP to say the agency should deny permits, given this new information we were not able to comment on at the hearing because it wasn’t disclosed to the public. His address is email@example.com. You can also address your concerns to the head of the DEP, Secretary Patrick McDonnell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6) Stay tuned for any info on right-to-know requests.
7) Contact your elected officials. I’ve attached a list of stakeholders identified by FERC and a contact list of all members of Congress and state legislators.
8) Help spread the word about all of this on social media. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow your reps and tweet the press release at them using this link:
Sample tweet: .@SenJudySchwank Birdsboro Power cites “significant contamination” on power plant site. Will you call for DEP and FERC to reject permits? Voters want to know. http://gastruth.org/
9) Let us know if you’ve got ideas for other actions we can take!
Ember Partners (formerly EmberClear) has been gathering the necessary approvals to construct a natural gas power plant in Birdsboro on the former Armorcast site. The plant would be a 485 megawatt (MW) combined-cycle facility. The specs of the project are located here.
On October 14, DTE Midstream Appalachia, LLC filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build a 14-mile pipeline that would connect the proposed Birdsboro natural gas power plant to the Texas Eastern pipeline.
The 16″ pipeline would run from Birdsboro to the Texas Eastern (TETCO) interconnect on Water Street in Oley. The affected municipalities include: Borough of Birdsboro, Union Township, Oley Township, Rockland Township, and Amity Township, Berks County, PA. The map indicates alternate routes for the pipeline. The company’s preferred route is in red. The FERC docket number assigned to the project is PF17-1. Read the specs here: DTE Pre-Filing.
Please check back for updates and actions you can take to oppose both projects.
You can take immediate action to oppose the pipeline by setting up a free account on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s site and leaving comments expressing your concerns about the pipeline project. The more information we get on the docket, the more FERC is obliged to consider. Our FERC Public Participation Process document provides you with step-by-step instructions on becoming a commenter.
Download instructions for becoming a commenter on the FERC docket.
Other ways you can help:
- If you are a landowner affected by the pipeline, don’t sign anything until you speak with an attorney. You can submit a DTE Deny Rescind Letter letter to DTE either denying survey access or rescinding access you’ve already granted.
- Talk to your neighbors. One great way to start the conversation is with a petition. It also helps you gather the contact information of people who might be willing to help or people you’d like to notify of public meetings and other events. DTE petition Birdsboro Power Plant petition
- Take along an informational handout to leave with them. DTE Handout Birdsboro Power Plant Flier
- Attend public meetings
- Put a yard sign in your lawn (coming this week!)
- Host informational meetings
- Write letters to the editor of your local papers objecting to the projects.
- Run for township supervisor or borough council seats as a Green Party or write-in candidate and make the projects an election issue. For more information, contact Karen Feridun at email@example.com.
- Volunteer to help in the fight. Contact Jan Ferry at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the power plant fight or email@example.com or 610-678-7726 about either project.
1/27/2017 – More than 200 concerned citizens and environmental advocates requested an extension of the scoping period and additional scoping hearings. FERC has never responded to our request. (Scoping is the period during which the public gets to comment on environmental concerns the commission should review).
3/13/2017 Opponents of the Birdsboro Power Plant submitted a Right-to-Know request to the Birdsboro Municipal Authority to request copies of all forms of notification given to residents about the project and any related meetings or hearings. This comes in the wake of discovering that neighbors as close as 200 feet from the plant do not recall getting any notification and knew nothing about the project.
Expert Witness Testimony to Stop Gas-Fired Power Plant Installation, Dr. Gideon Polya, Countercurrents, June 14, 2013 – provides overview of issues including potential health impacts.