The Sierra Club of Iowa is joining other environmental groups in calling for the Omaha Public Power District to close its coal-fired power plant north of Omaha. The groups claim pollution from the plant is responsible for 14 deaths in the area every year, as well as 22 heart attacks and 240 asthma attacks. O-P-P-D vice president Tim Burke says the plant is running within all guidelines. “We are within all operating parameters of the EPA,” Burke says. “Obviously, with the Department of Environmental Quality and the state of Nebraska and with the city of Omaha, we essentially have been within all operating limits.”
He says the plant, just across the Missouri River from Iowa, is under constant surveillance. Burke says, “It’s really important that there are specific monitors that are managed by Douglas County (Nebraska) Health near the plant that measure ambient air quality and those ambient air quality measurements are well below the national ambient air quality standards.”
The Sierra Club of Iowa is working with the Clean Air Task Force and the Malcolm X Foundation in demanding the plant’s closure. “We’re not going to shut that plant down,” Burke says, “but I will tell you that the EPA is looking at other regulations in the future that may require us to look at changes in that plant, so we are evaluating what those changes may look like.”
The north Omaha coal-fired plant isn’t used much, Burke says, as it’s essentially a reserve plant for high-peak usage times during the summer. Once the idled Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant is running again, he says the coal plant will be used even less.