Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And the FutureGen Winner is Mattoon

Mattoon, Illinois was officially chosen as the final designated site for the massive FutureGen power plant -- which is supposed to become "the World's Cleanest Coal Plant."

Mattoon is just a quick hop and a skip over the border East of Terre Haute, Indiana.

Never heard about FutureGen, you say?

Well, then, you might be interested in reading the DOE Environmental Impact Study on the subject which you can find here.

I have a few mixed feelings on this massive undertaking which is sure to suck quite a few tax dollars up over the next couple years... possibly beyond; a lot of tax dollars... for something that would only be in operation "for at least 20 to 30 years, and potentially up to 50 years."

Besides the enormous costs, of which DOE would provide 74% of the net (about $1,077,760,230), there are other details that make me nervous, particularly with respect to -- the transportation by pipeline and "sequestration" of -- 1.1 million tons of CO2 per year -- below ground.

This pic from the DOE Environmental Impact Study might give you an idea:

click for larger pic

Now, supposedly the facility will be constructed on 444 acres, 97% of which is farmland and 3% of which is public Right-of-Ways.

Okay... that's the -- above ground -- space, but looking at their sample image above, I'm thinking, hey, aren't they actually using quite a bit larger space below ground for all that CO2 "sequestration" as they call it? I wonder what the neighbors will think?

And, what happens when you keep pumping that kind of pressure 1.3 to 1.6 miles below ground, year after year, for a period of anywhere between 20 and 50 years? And how does the saline solution that far below ground help solve the CO2 issues?

And, ummmm, exactly how much water will this plant require per day that will be drawn indirectly from the aquifer(from the Mattoon public water system and possibly Chesterton)?

And what about the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides which they're planning to convert to useable by-products such as fertilizers and soil enhancers.

Well, with a document that is 152 pages long, I'm guessing if I want my questions answered I'll be reading quite a bit over the next couple days. However, according to the ENS news article, even the Environmental Impact Study leaves a few questions unanswered.

Why am I so curious? Check out this quote from the Environment News Service article on the subject:
"The ability to effectively and economically capture CO2 emissions from existing power plants could spur the construction of new CO2 pipelines across the country to geologic formations suitable for CO2 sequestration," the EIS says.
For more on the four towns that were considered for the project, check out this AP article which lists the pros and cons for each site.

Notice the cons for Mattoon -- "Greatest population around potential site, potentially putting more people at risk if there is a chemical release."

And, considering many of our prevailing winds during summer come from the southwest, where does that leave us?

But check out on the map where Indianapolis is located in relation to the site.

Hmmmmm.... we live in interesting times, indeed.

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