GUEST COLUMNIST: Plant closure brings dirty smoke

When the Ontario government decided to close our coal-fired electrical generating stations they must have forgotten to do their homework. What might have seemed a valid idea at the time turned out to be a major disaster!

The Lambton Generating System emitted very clean smoke due to fine technology used at the plant.

Now the Ontario Power Generation plant in Courtright has burned up all its coal and mothballed the station, putting a lot of local people out of work.

The plant now sits idle waiting for a decision on whether it will be converted to natural gas or other fuels. As we are no longer exporting our excess electricity from OPG to Michigan, (they got one heck of a bargain on our excess electricity in that deal), the activity at the plants in Michigan directly across the St. Clair River west of OPG has increased substantially. The U.S. plants are more active now and the result is smoke that is not nearly as clean as OPG’s often blows directly east across the river into Ontario.

The Lambton plant was one of the cleanest in North America because of high tech “scrubbers,” but due to its closure by the Ontario government we’re breathing dirtier air from the U.S.

When the river is ice-free, large lake freighters deliver loads of coal to Detroit Edison’s Michigan plants a few miles downriver about three times a week.  That weekly delivery is about 80,000 tons of coal. It is reported that one shipload lasts them just a day and a half. That’s a lot of coal being burned in plants that do not have anything like the high tech “scrubbers” that OPG had. That’s also a lot of pollution we get that we never had in those quantities before and all because somebody in Toronto made a colossal blunder!

Lets hope the Ontario Government people who are responsible for this see the light and convert OPG to a gas-fired plant in the very near future. That’s one good way to cut down on air pollution in this area.

 

Harold Merton is a semi-retired photojournalist and publisher of Scope RV Camping Magazine. He lives in Courtright.