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EVER WONDER: Why does our power plant pollute?
Martin Drake "pollution"
Now they're talking about taking the Martin Drake Power Plant out of the downtown area. That seems like an especially good idea because on cold days the coal pollution is pouring out of that plant in huge clouds. How has this been tolerated for all these years?
- Amanda J.
ANSWER: What you're seeing is "just water steam," said Colorado Springs Utilities spokesman Steve Berry. "Water is part of the generation process. Both Martin Drake and Ray D. Nixon power plants surpass all EPA standards. The plants have soot removing bag houses which remove particulate pollution. Also, the plant does qualify as a low emitter under state regulations for control of mercury. Mercury comes from the fly ash residual. It's not in the steam vapor but is considered part of the emissions from the plant.
"We use low-sulphur coal and low nitrogen oxygen burners that further minimize pollutants. Even though energy demands have gone up, our air quality has improved over the past 25 years."
Berry said there is much talk about new systems, particularly hydroelectric and natural gas. "Natural gas does burn cleaner but there are byproducts of generating by natural gas as well."
Berry said he is "not diminishing people's concerns about coal and coal-fired plants but they're not like petroleum where you'll have the white dust."
Berry encourages the public to be involved in the upcoming community conversations about the Martin Drake Plant. "I urge you to participate," Berry said.