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The Planet

September 1997, Volume 4, number 7

Orimulsion Would Set Bad Precedent

by David Edeli Last year in Florida's Manatee County, the state's largest utility lost its bid to burn a dirty, untested fuel called orimulsion thanks to the timely efforts of Sierra Club volunteers. (See April 1996 Planet.) Now, under the aegis of an improved pollution prevention plan, Florida Power and Light is reapplying for a permit. A hearing is set for Sept. 9.

Little is known about the effects of burning the mixture of coal, water and emulsifying agents at the projected levels of use. The coal in the mixture contains extremely high levels of sulfur, mercury and vanadium, and when burned it produces dangerous levels of nitrogen oxides, which are linked to acid rain and respiratory disease.

The utility's new plan includes few improvements over the old one. Florida Power and Light officials say they will screen all larger pollution particles, but they refuse to purchase equipment to curb the release of the finer ones.

"If Florida Power and Light can bend U.S. clean-air laws," said Mary Sheppard, local Sierra Club leader, "other utilities are sure to follow suit . . .They will set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country. We need to take our facts and figures about the harmful effects of orimulsion to the governor and his cabinet and encourage them to deny the permit. Letters, faxes, and phone calls to the governor will help to tip the balance."

To take action: Contact Gov. Lawton Chiles, The Capitol, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001; (904) 488-5152; or fax (904) 488-8578. Remind him that burning orimulsion would increase air pollution and the threat of ocean-spilling in transport, it remains unregulated by state or federal governments, and its full toxic consequences are unknown.

For more information: Contact Mary Sheppard at (941) 746-6563;; or Jack Maney at (407) 723-2480;

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