Cardinal Plant

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Cardinal Plant is an operating power station of at least 1880-megawatts (MW) in Brilliant, Jefferson, Ohio, United States.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Cardinal Plant Brilliant, Jefferson, Ohio, United States 40.253003, -80.646803 (exact)

The map below shows the exact location of the power station.

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3: 40.253003, -80.646803

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology Start year Retired year
Unit 1 operating coal - bituminous 615.2 supercritical 1967 2030 (planned)
Unit 2 operating coal - bituminous 615.2 supercritical 1967
Unit 3 operating coal - bituminous 650 supercritical 1977

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner
Unit 1 Buckeye Power Inc (BPI) [100.0%]
Unit 2 Buckeye Power Inc (BPI) [100.0%]
Unit 3 Buckeye Power Inc (BPI) [100.0%]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 10,985,695 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 86,880 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 17,160 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 826 lb.


The 2012 NRDC report, Poisoning the Great Lakes: 25 Coal-fired Power Plants Responsible for Half the Region's Mercury Pollution, found that 25 coal-fired power plants account for more than half of the mercury pollution emitted by the total of 144 electricity generation facilities in the Great Lakes region, and that almost 90 percent of the toxic emissions could be eliminated with available technologies. Over 13,000 pounds of mercury was emitted by the 144 coal plants into the air in 2010.

The coal-fired power plants with the highest mercury emissions are: Shawville Generating Station (Clearfield County, PA); Monroe Power Plant (Monroe County, MI); Homer City Generating Station (Indiana County, PA); Cardinal Plant (Jefferson County, OH); and Sherburne County Plant (Sherburne County, MN). A dozen power plants in Ohio and Indiana -- owned in whole or part by American Electric Power -- accounted for 19 percent of all mercury emitted in 2010 in the region.

Decay in scrubber

American Electric Power installed a pollution control scrubber at its Cardinal Plant along the Ohio River in 2007, as part of a 2007 federal air-pollution lawsuit settlement. The scrubber was supposed to last 25 years, but a 2008 inspection found that something was eating through its steel wall, with some areas corroded all the way through. Central Ohio AEP customers already are paying for the scrubbers, as state regulators permitted the company to increase base fees as much as 7 percent in 2009, 6 percent in 2010 and another 6 percent this year. Estimates kept by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio show the average Columbus residential electricity bill for the month of June rose from $87.90 in 2008 to $95.21 in 2011.

In addition to Cardinal, AEP found corrosion in new scrubbers at its Conesville Power Plant in Coshocton County and at its Mountaineer Plant and Mitchell Plant along the Ohio River in West Virginia. The company spent $1.7 billion to install five scrubbers at those four plants, said Melissa McHenry, a company spokeswoman. AEP negotiated a confidential settlement with a contractor, Kansas-based Black & Veatch, to address corrosion at its Conesville and Cardinal plants.

Duke Energy found corrosion in two Miami Fort Station scrubbers in Hamilton County, which cost $365 million. Duke Energy spokeswoman Erin Culbert said the company, so far, has spent more than $5 million on short-term repairs. Ohio-based FirstEnergy found initial signs of corrosion in three new scrubbers - only seven months old - at its W.H. Sammis Plant along the Ohio River in Jefferson County. It cost $1.8 billion to install scrubbers and other pollution filters there.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), which is funded by utility companies, is investigating reports of "aggressive" corrosion in scrubbers across the nation. There are about 360 operating scrubbers at U.S. power plants. They are used mainly to catch sulfur dioxide, a key ingredient in the smog and soot pollution that plagues U.S. cities, including Columbus. Research Institute officials are focused on 166 scrubbers installed since 2006. As many as 70 are made of a type of stainless steel that appears particularly vulnerable to corrosion. A scrubber can hold as much as 1 million gallons of lime slurry, a solution that captures sulfur compounds in hot power-plant smoke before it goes up the stack. Although no scrubber has "failed," utility officials say they want to know why some are corroding. EPRI said it could take as long as two years to identify a root cause of the corrosion and find a solution.[1]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Cardinal Plant

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[2] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[3]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Cardinal Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 55 $400,000,000
Heart attacks 89 $9,700,000
Asthma attacks 840 $44,000
Hospital admissions 41 $960,000
Chronic bronchitis 32 $14,000,000
Asthma ER visits 42 $15,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Coal Waste Site

Cardinal ranked 24th on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[4] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[5]

Cardinal Plant ranked number 24 on the list, with 1,707,225 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[4]

"High Hazard" Surface Impoundment

Cardinal Plant's Fly Ash Reservoir 2 surface impoundment is on the EPA's official June 2009 list of Coal Combustion Residue (CCR) Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not assess of the likelihood of such an event.[6]

Articles and Resources


  1. Spencer Hunt, "'Aggressive' decay eats at power-plant scrubbers" The Columbus Dispatch, July 11, 2011.
  2. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  3. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  5. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  6. Coal waste

Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of coal-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.