Flint Creek Power Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

Flint Creek Power Plant is a 558.0-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station operated by Southwestern Electric Power near Gentry, Arkansas.


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Plant Data

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Flint Creek Power 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 affects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[4] The study found that over 13,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma-related episodes and asthma-related emergency room visits, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, peneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal-fired power plants. Fine particle pollution is formed from a combination of soot, acid droplets, and heavy metals formed from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and soot. Among those particles, the most dangerous are the smallest (smaller than 2.5 microns), 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. 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.

The table below estimates the death and illness attributable to the Flint Creek Power 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.[5]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Flint Creek Power Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 20 $150,000,000
Heart attacks 30 $30,000,000
Asthma attacks 340 $18,000
Hospital admissions 15 $340,000
Chronic bronchitis 12 $5,500,000
Asthma ER visits 22 $8,000

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

Citizen groups

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 3,838,841 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 8,526 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 5,461 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 146 lb.

Coal Waste Site

2020: Ash pond to close

In November 2020, plant owner AEP SWEPCO said it will continue operations at the coal plant with the installation of a dry bottom ash handling system and other facilities that meet the Coal Combustion Residuals and Effluent Limitation Guidelines requirements in 2023. The Flint Creek Power Plant Primary Bottom Ash Pond will be closed, and the ash will be sold or moved to the plant’s onsite landfill.[6]

Flint Creek ranked 96th 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.[7] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[8]

Flint Creek Power Plant ranked number 96 on the list, with 221,456 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[7]

Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Arkansas, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that is not currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[9] The report mentioned Arkansas based Flint Creek Power Plant and the Independence Steam Station were two sites that have groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[10]

The 2010 EarthJustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and Sierra Club report, "In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and their Environment," identified 39 more coal combustion waste (CCW) disposal sites in 21 states that have contaminated groundwater or surface water with toxic metals and other pollutants, including Flint, based on monitoring data and other information available in state agency files. The report builds on an earlier 2010 report by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice, "Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites", which documented similar damage at 31 coal combustion waste dumpsites in 14 states. When added to the 67 damage cases that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has already acknowledged, the total number of sites polluted by coal ash or coal scrubber sludge comes to at least 137 in 34 states.

The report found that the groundwater downgradient of the Flint coal waste landfill has been contaminated with lead up to 33 times the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), barium, selenium, cadmium and chromium exceeding the MCL, and iron, manganese and silver exceeding Arkansas groundwater standards. 2009 assessment monitoring found selenium at 3 times the MCL, and sulfate and total dissolved solids TDS at 8 and 5 times the SMCL, respectively, in a well 360 feet downgradient from the landfill. A seep with high metals discharges to a stream that drains to ash ponds, which then discharge to an off-site recreational reservoir without limits or monitoring of ash metals. 45 private wells are within a 2-mile radius of the plant. Six public intermittent wells are within a 5-mile radius of the plant.[11]

Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Flint Creek waste site

A report released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011 stated that there are many health threats associated with a toxic cancer-causing chemical found in coal waste called hexavalent chromium. The report specifically cited 29 sites in 17 states where the contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash and included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin. In Arkansas, the Flint Creek Power Plant was noted as having a high level of chromium at its coal waste landfill.[12]

According to the report, the Flint Creek coal ash site is a landfill. Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was reported at the site above 128 ppb (parts per billion) - 6,400 times the proposed California drinking water goals and 1.28 times the federal drinking water standard.[12][13][14][15][16]

As a press release about the report read:

Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.[17]

According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.[12]

Articles and Resources


  1. "AEP 2019 annual report, page 254" aep.com, accessed July 2020
  2. "Annual Report 2019, page 24" aecc.com, accessed July 2020
  3. "EIA 923 March 2020" EIA 923 2020.
  4. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  5. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  6. Cavazos, Michael (2020-11-05). "SWEPCO to retire Pirkey Power Plant in Hallsville in 2023". Longview News-Journal. Retrieved 2020-11-06.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  8. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  9. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  10. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  11. Jeff Stant, "In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and their Environment," EarthJustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and Sierra Club report, August 26, 2010.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
  13. "Damage Case Report for Coal Compustion Wastes," August 2008
  14. U.S. EPA Proposed Coal Ash Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 35128
  15. EarthJustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and Sierra Club, "In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and their Environment," August 2010
  16. EarthJustice and Environmental Integrity Project, "Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites," May 2010
  17. "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer, Examiner.com, February 1, 2011.

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