August 30, 2011
Contact: Nickolas Sifuentes, 310-866-1692
Club Applauds Retirement of Potomac River Coal Plant
Huge public health
victory comes after years of pressure from local citizens and the Sierra Club
Alexandria, Virginia – Today, Mayor William D. Euille of Alexandria and
GenOn Energy, Inc. announced the planned retirement of the Potomac River
Generating Station, a sixty-two year old coal-fired power plant on the banks of
the Potomac River in Alexandria. The announcement set the
retirement date for October 1, 2012. Since 2003, the Sierra Club has worked on
an extensive organizing campaign targeting the plant for responsible retirement
due to its extensive health effects to the families of Washington, DC and
"Today’s announcement of the retirement of GenOn’s
Potomac River coal plant is a triumph for the residents of Alexandria and the
D.C area," said Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune. "Retiring
this major source of pollution in our nation’s capital signals a huge symbolic
step towards moving the nation beyond coal. But the win today didn’t happen overnight. It is a
culmination of many years of hard work by local activists and concerned
residents. Pollution from this coal-fired power plant has been making local
residents sick since 1949 – contributing to heightened asthma rates,
respiratory illnesses and other health problems. Retiring
the Potomac River coal plant will mean cleaner air, cleaner water and healthier
children and families."
The Potomac plant is a coal-fired station situated on the banks of the
Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, directly across—and upwind from—D.C.’s
Ward 8. Recent Sierra Club pollution modeling results demonstrate that unhealthy
levels of soot and smog travel downwind from the plant directly into Ward 8, affecting
the health and well-being of thousands of D.C. residents both within and beyond
Over 400,000 residents in Virginia and Washington
D.C. are put directly at risk by pollution from the power plant. According to
recent analysis by the Sierra Club the plant releases 702 tons of sulfur
dioxide and 725 tons of nitrogen oxides into the air annually. This pollution
generates a deadly haze which can trigger asthma attacks, respiratory
illnesses, and contribute to heart disease, cancers and other illness.
Nationally, pollution from coal-fired power plants is responsible for billions
of dollars in health costs and lost work and school days.
the District of Columbia ramps up its reliance on solar power and energy
efficiency, we should ensure that the workforce at the Potomac plant are
responsibly transitioned into the clean energy sector," said Mary Anne
Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. "We should look
at the retirement of this plant as an opportunity to create good jobs as well
as cleaner air."
"We’re pleased to see that GenOn is taking
steps to retire this plant as soon as possible," said Phillip Ellis, field
organizer with the Sierra Club. "A recent study shows that the reliability of our energy will not
be affected by the Potomac plant’s retirement. Not only is this plant
unnecessary, it’s contributing to illness on both sides of the Potomac. We’re
glad to see that it will be taken offline as soon as possible."
Recently the Sierra Club joined forces with Michael R. Bloomberg and
his Bloomberg Philanthropies to combat the dangerous health effects coal fired
power has on children and families across the nation. The announcement of a $50
million dollar gift to roll back the threat of coal-fired pollution was held
just outside the plant in Alexandria.
"This is a great step forward for the Beyond Coal Campaign, but an
even more important victory for the people of Alexandria, VA," said Mr. Bloomberg.
"They have been fighting to close this plant for decades and now their
hard work, passion, and commitment to take action to improve the lives of their
families and their community has paid off. I also want to offer congratulations
to Representative Jim Moran and Alexandria City Mayor William D. Euille as
well, for leading the way for their constituents. There are millions of people
across America committed to putting our country on a new energy path and
communities like Alexandria are on the front lines."
For more information about the Sierra Club’s
campaign to move beyond coal, please visit: http://www.beyondcoal.org