| The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and the Sierra Club filed suit against Energy Future Holdings Corp, and its subsidiary, Luminant (formerly TXU) in Federal Court in Waco earlier today. The lawsuit targets excessive emissions of particulate matter, or soot, emanating from from Luminant’s Big Brown coal-fired power plant in Fairfield, Texas, northeast of Waco. Soot contains mercury and other toxic metals, and can contribute to asthma, heart disease, respiratory illness, and contributes to “thousands of premature deaths every year.”
Luminant is no stranger to controversy. It was purchased in the nation’s largest ever leveraged buyout in 2006, and has proceeded to lose money ever since. It has already been sued, at least, once over excessive emissions at another plant, Martin Lake, in 2010. Three of Luminant’s North Texas coal plants (Big Brown, Martin Lake, and Monticello) are ranked among the nation's top ten worst polluting industrial facilities. Those three plants alone account for 25% of all industrial pollution in Texas and 46% of all pollution related to power generation in the state (there are over 125 large power plants in Texas according to the EPA)
Big Brown “ranks among the top polluting coal fired power plants across the country dumping harmful emissions upon rural people, our land, and our drinking water. With state regulators unwilling to address the pollution problems created by Big Brown, a citizen suit is necessary to expose, prevent, and protect those of us, in this rural area of Texas, who must live with the outdated and dirty operations going on at the Big Brown power plant," said Vicky Prater, with COPPS for Clean Air, and a resident of nearby Navarro County.
Dr. Neil Caiman, Air Program Director of the Lonestar Chapter of the Sierra Club had this to say about the lawsuit:
Luminant self-monitors its plants, and according to the company's own data, the Big Brown plant has violated the requirements of its own air permit thousands of times. What's troubling is that Luminant's Big Brown plant has very lenient pollution standards compared to other power plants, and the plant is still pumping out more than three times the legal limit. That impacts the health and wellbeing of Texans. For far too long Luminant has failed to clean up its harmful pollution and chosen not to install pollution controls, even as many other power plant operators were cleaning up their plants. Those days are over and in order to bring Big Brown into compliance, Luminant must decide if it will clean up the power plant or retire it.