Salem Harbor Station
Salem Harbor Station was a 329.6-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by Dominion in Salem, Massachusetts.
- Owner: Dominion Energy New England LLC
- Parent Company: Dominion
- Plant Nameplate Capacity: 329.6 MW (Megawatts)
- Units and In-Service Dates: 81.9 MW (1952), 82.0 MW (1952), 165.7 MW (1958)
- Location: 24 Fort Ave., Salem, MA 01970
- GPS Coordinates: 42.52647, -70.87691
- Coal Consumption:
- Coal Source:
- Number of Employees:
- Unit Retirements: All 3 coal units retired in June 2014.
On November 18, 2010, Dominion said it expects to shut the Salem Harbor coal/oil-fired power plant in Massachusetts within five to seven years "as the high cost of keeping up with ever more stringent pollution rules could make it uneconomic to keep operating the plant," a company executive said. Dominion CFO Mark McGettrick also told investors that, in addition to the 738-megawatt Salem Harbor, the company may also close the 515 MW State Line Plant in Indiana. The first of the coal units still operating at both plants entered service more than half a century ago. The environmental regulations McGettrick referred to was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's planned one-hour ozone rule for 2015-2017, known as the Transport Rule: "If that rule goes into effect, we do not plan to install expensive environmental controls at either of those two stations," Dominion spokesman Dan Genest told Reuters.
In Feb. 2011, Dominion said it could retire the plant in June 2014 when the 2013-2014 forward capacity contract ends, if it cannot recover the cost of environmental upgrades needed to run after that date. In October 2010, Dominion filed what is known as a "permanent delist bid" that included a request to recover the cost of the environmental upgrades that would have allowed the plant to opt out of the 2014-2015 forward capacity auction. The ISO rejected that bid in January 2011.
In May, 2011, Dominion announced that all four units of the plant, including the three units that use coal, would shut down by June 2014. In February 2012, the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and HealthLink secured an [www.clf.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Order-Entering-Motion.pdf Order] from the US District Court in Massachusetts requiring Dominion to shut down all four units at the plant by 2014.
The plant is located on a sixty-five acre site and has been operating since 1951.
In January 2005, Dominion bought the Salem Harbor plant as part of a package deal (including the Brayton Point coal-fired power plant in Somerset, MA and the gas-fired Manchester Street station in Providence, RI) for $656 million from USGen New England. The plant is located on a sixty-five acre site and has been operating since 1951. At full capacity, Salem Harbor can generate energy to power 750,000 homes, but currently only powers 300,000 homes.
- 2006 CO2 Emissions: 2,557,539 tons
- 2006 SO2 Emissions: 8,616 tons
- 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
- 2006 NOx Emissions: 1,772 tons
- 2005 Mercury Emissions: 18 lb.
In 2007, the Salem Harbor station was the third largest source of pollution in Massachusetts. The plant is the source of 276,492 pounds of the 26.7 million pounds of chemicals released in the state in 2007. (The plant was shut down starting November 16, 2007 through the end of the year and into 2008, following an accident that killed three workers.)
Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Salem Harbor Station
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. 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.
Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Salem Harbor Station
|Type of Impact||Annual Incidence||Valuation|
|Asthma ER visits||12||$4,000|
Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011
The Colombian coal comes from el Cerrejon and la Loma mines. El Cerrejon is the largest open-pit coal mine in the world. The mine began a joint venture between Exxon and the Colombian government in 1982 but now is a joint venture of Anglo American (33%), Glencore International (33%) and BHP Billiton (33%). The U.S. Geological Survey reports that in 2005, 59% of the company's exports went to Europe with a further 22% to North America.  Coal imported from Cerrejon to the U.S. is sent to five ports, which are located in Mobile, AL, Jacksonville, FL, Baltimore, MD, Salem, MA, and Somerset, MA. Each of these ports serves a major power station. In Salem, MA the destination is the Salem Harbor Station, and in Somerset, Dominion's Brayton Point Station.
La Loma mine opened in 1985 and is privately-owned by Drummond Coal. Aside from Salem Harbor, coal imported to the U.S. from la Loma mine mainly goes to the Brayton Point station (Somerset, MA) and a plant in Mobile, AL. Plants in Newburgh, NY, Savannah, GA, and Tampa, FL also receive coal from la Loma. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick also imports large amounts of la Loma's coal.
Colombian Coal and Human Rights Violations
Colombia's coal mines, like many industries in the country, are filled with stories of displacement and terror. A number of entire communities in the coalfields have been displaced, including Tabaco, a 700-person Afro-Colombian village that was razed in 2001. People living near the coalfields have faced malnutrition, diseases such as ringworm, and restricted access to land since the large mines opened up.
The Drummond Company (operator of la Loma mine) has been the subject of numerous lawsuits regarding the murders of 70 union miners and railroad workers, collectively. The murdered Colombians were killed by the notorious paramilitary group, United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which had been hired by Drummond to act as security. In addition to those killed, a lawsuit against Drummond describes "how hundreds of men, women, and children were terrorized in their homes, on their way to and from work… innocent people killed in or near their homes or kidnapped to never to return home, their spouses and children being beaten and tied up, and people being pulled off buses and summarily executed on the spot."
Possible fuel conversion ahead
On May 21, 2009, Governor Deval Patrick said at a community forum in Marblehead, MA that the state was in talks with Dominion about the Salem Harbor plant and would be making an announcement in the following weeks. A spokesperson for Dominion has stated that the company is "reviewing different fuel options for Salem Harbor, and we are doing the review in coordination with the commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Green Communities Act of 2008." In 2006, Salem Harbor experimented with burning waste paper. Many people in the local community anticipate an announcement that Dominion will convert the power plant to biomass.
Explosion at Salem Harbor
At 8:46 a.m. on November 16, 2007, pipes burst on the lower section of Boiler No. 3 at Salem Harbor, covering Matthew Indeglia, Philip Robinson, and Mark Mansfield with highly pressurized ash, steam, and 600˚ water, burning and killing them. A state investigation found the cause to a defective weld and tube corrosion; the area had not been inspected in at least nine years. The Salem New reported that the lower area of Boiler No. 3 "was filled with so much ash that entry was blocked."
On November 17, 2007, the state revoked all inspection certificates for the boilers at Salem Harbor, closing the plant for several months. In March 2008, three of the boilers came back into service after Dominion cleaned them up. In July 2008, Dominion began operating Boiler No. 3 again. 
On May 14, 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported ten safety violations at the plant and fined Dominion $46,800. Dominion appealed the fine and citations. On January 22, 2009, OSHA and Dominion announced an agreement where OSHA would drop four of the charges, reduce three others, and reduce Dominion's fine to $23,400. Among the dropped charges was the most serious of them: "a citation that accused the power plant of allowing poor working conditions that exposed workers to "burns and serious bodily harm"." In exchange, Dominion agreed to inspect and clean the lower section of each coal-fired boiler that the company owns in New England every two years.
On July 31, 2008, the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety revoked the license of the plant's former engineer-in-charge Steve Dulong and found National Union Fire Insurance Company's Robert Maule "incompetent and untrustworthy." Dulong and Maule both appealed the Department's actions; as of late January 2009, the appeals were still pending.
Protests against Salem Harbor
March 1, 2009: Activists rally against coal in Massachusetts
A group of about 30 people rallied outside of the Salem Harbor generating station in protest of the public health and environmental problems caused by the station. The rally was organized by HealthLink, and took place in coordination with protests at the Mt. Tom, Brayton Point, and Somerset plants in Massachusetts.
- HealthLink: HealthLink is a Massachusetts North Shore citizens group working to protect public health by eliminating toxins in the environment through research, education and community action.
- North Shore Colombia Solidarity Committee: The North Shore Colombia Solidarity Committee was formed by people from various North Shore communities in Massachusetts in response to the news that a portion of the coal for the Salem, Mass. power plant was coming from a mine in Colombia where human rights violations were being committed against the people in the villages surrounding the mine.
- Stop the Plant Now: Stop the Plant Now is a group in Salem and the surrounding area that would like to replace the power plant with a mixed-use facility that would include a manufacturing facility, a conference center and hotel, parking, condos, marina and office and restaurants on the harbor front.
Articles and Resources
- "Dominion to shut Mass. Salem Harbor coal/oil plant" Reuters, Nov. 18, 2010.
- "Power plant could be shut down in 2014" istock analyst, Feb. 17, 2011.
- Sean Teehan, "Salem Harbor Power Station scheduled to close by June 2014," Boston Globe, May 12, 2011
- Steve Rosenberg, “Power struggle”, “Boston Globe”, November 6, 2008.
- "Children at Risk State Fact Sheets: Massachusetts", Clean Air Task Force website, accessed June 10, 2009.
- "Old Plant Begins to Break Spell Over Salem, Mass." Jay Lindsay, Associated Press, November 28, 2010.
- "Brayton Point power plant tops list for carbon-dioxide emissions", "Providence Journal", July 27, 2005.
- "Community-specific chemical release data available for Massachusetts- New England continues trend of lower releases to air, land, and water", Environmental Protection Agency Region 1, March 20, 2009.
- "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
- "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
- "New England power plants that use coal and where the coal comes from", "Appalachian Voices", accessed March 30, 2009.
- Aviva Chomsky, "Linked Labor Histories: New England, Colombia, and the making of a global working class", Duke University Press, 2008.
- Ivette E. Torres, "The Mineral Industry of Colombia", U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, December 2007.
- Aviva Chomsky, "The dirty story behind local energy", "The Boston Phoenix", October 1, 2007.
- International Rights Advocates, "Juan Aquas Romero, et al. v. Drummond Company Inc., et al.", Plaintiff's Opening Brief, December 11, 2007.
- "Federal lawsuit alleges U.S. mining company Drummond paid millions to Colombian paramilitary terrorists who killed 67; including "execution" of union leaders", "Reuters", May 28, 2009.
- "Children of slain Colombian coal miners sue Drummond Co. in Birmingham federal court", "Birmingham News", March 20, 2009.
- Tom Dalton, "State, power plant are in 'green' talks'", "Salem News", May 23, 2009.
- Andrea Fox, "Taking a position on the Salem power plant", "Salem News", June 19, 2009.
- Tom Dalton, "Honoring the power plant victims one year later", "Salem News", November 6, 2008.
- Tom Dalton, "Feds, power plant settle accident claim", "Salem News", January 23, 2009.
- "Settlement Agreement", Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, accessed March 22, 2009.
- Tom Dalton, "State faults engineer, outside inspector in fatal power plant accident", "Salem News", August 1, 2008.
- "Massachusetts Department of Public Safety report", July 31, 2008.
- Amanda McGregor, "Fighting the power", "Salem Gazette", March 2, 2009.
- "Stand at Salem" rally announcement, HealthLink website, accessed March 23, 2009.
- Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed Jan. 2009.
- Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
- Facility Registry System, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accessed Jan. 2009.
- Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed Feb. 2009.
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