EPA: No Problems for Natural Gas Power Plant Construction

MOUNDSVILLE – Do not expect the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to object to Moundsville Power LLC’s planned $615 million natural gas-fired power plant, as officials believe the facility would be built in an area with little contamination.

Andrew Dorn, managing partner with the Buffalo, N.Y.-based private Moundsville Power firm, said the facility’s footprint will be much smaller than other electricity generators throughout the Upper Ohio Valley, meaning it will have less of an impact on the surrounding community.

“The tallest structure will be 180 feet tall, but we will begin building 30 feet below the current level,” Dorn said of the proposed plant’s smokestack.

By comparison, the tallest stack at the American Electric Power coal-fired Mitchell Plant towers to1,206 feet. However, AEP spokeswoman Tammy Ridout said that stack is no longer in use, as a new 1,000-foot tower is used to evacuate Mitchell’s emissions.

The proposed development area – a 37.5-acre site currently owned by Honeywell between the Williams Energy fractionation natural gas processing plant and the Moundsville County Club – is classified as a Superfund, or an abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, by the EPA. However, EPA spokeswoman Bonnie Smith and Remedial Project Manager Kate Lose said certain areas of the Superfund site may not actually contain contamination.

“This is a very complex site. Honeywell has done a major removal of contaminated soil,” Smith said regarding the land’s current owner.

“It appears the plant would be in an area immediately adjacent to (W.Va.) 2. That area is fine for development,” Lose added.

According to the EPA, the entire Superfund area is officially known as the Hanlin-Allied-Olin site. Mercury, chloroform and carbon tetrachloride have been identified in the groundwater on the Hanlin-Allied portion of the site. The Washington Lands water well, a groundwater public supply, is located 3,000 feet south of the site.

As of September 2012, over 140,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds were removed from the subsurface soils. Contaminated dirt was excavated and either placed in an on-site landfill or shipped off-site, according to the EPA.

At the entrance to the site, a sign representing a partnership between Honeywell and CH2M Hill is visible. This is the firm with whom Moundsville Power officials are contracting to construct the power plant.

Public Service Commission of West Virginia spokeswoman Susan Small said Moundsville Power filed a notice to site the plant. West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kelley J. Gillenwater said the firm applied for a New Source Review permit to assure compliance with clean air standards on Oct. 7.

“All we have right now is the application. It is currently under review,” Gillenwater said.