Midwest Generation Responds to Ordinance

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsSince entering the Illinois market in 1999, Midwest Generation has garnered plenty of attention for its emission of air pollution. According to researchers from the Clean Air Task Force, Fisk and Crawford, one of coal plants owned by Midwest Generation, was the cause of 42 premature deaths, 66 heart attacks and 720 cases of asthma attacks each year. In late July Alderman Daniel Solis of the 25th Ward cosponsored the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, which was aimed to reduce pollution from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants. “There is no doubt that these coal power plants need to be cleaned up immediately to protect the fundamental health and safety of our communities,” said Ald. Solis during a press conference last month. “I am proud to have played a leading role in sponsoring the Clean Power Ordinance.” However, Susana Olavarria, director of communications and governmental affairs for Midwest Generation insists most information shares is taken from dated research. “Since I came to Midwest Generation eight years ago, I have seen first hand how the company cares for the well-being of its employees and community,” said Olavarria. Currently, Midwest Generation is welcoming residents to witness just how ‘progressive’ their plants are in comparison to other coal-plants across the country. During a phone interview, Olavarria responded to city’s Clean Power Ordinance, its history, and how she would the community to view Midwest Generation.

Clean Power Ordinance

It saddens us and it’s frustrating for us as employees. From the inside, we have seen the commitment that the company has in safety. We have seen the commitments, the environmental improvements and how we, as employees, are affected everyday of our lives. In everything we do, every decision we make, we have to ask, “Is this safe enough?” and “Is this going to have any environmental hazards?” Those are the two top questions Midwest Generation is always conscientious of; every single one of us. Many of us who work inside know first hand the commitment from the moment the company came in December 1999 when the deal was finalized and in 2000 when it operated for the first time. We have seen the company pouring millions and millions and millions of dollars in improving environmental controls and making these plants better. We are proud of the work these plants have done and how the company operates its facilities. You have activists who accuse the company of many things and who are being alarmed by extrapolated data that isn’t even based on real information. You know, alarming the community, the people, giving them all these lies about our company not being responsible. And the reality is you might have coal companies out there that actually fight every single rule and regulation that is thrown upon them, but that’s not us.

Progressive Plant

We have been a progressive company. An indication of that is our history. If you look on FiskandCrawford.com and you look at the timeline, it tells you about all the things we have done since we’ve entered this market. From environmental controls right off the bat to working with the Department of Energy with our first pilot. We were one of six that were awarded pilot studies for mercury. We were the leading company in identifying new technology that could detect mercury. We even put our dollars, resources, and people behind that effort and we were able to create a technology that works. We were among the first plant in the country to install a mercury control device that removes 90 percent of mercury from both plants. The mercury rules that were just passed during the Obama administration on mercury are right now making the rounds and visiting coal plants across the country. Well, we did that work in 2008. We are way ahead of most plants and we are in the process of creating technology that cuts our nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. As we speak we have crews building and installing devices that will detect nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. We have been working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in making sure we stay ahead of the game as we have been since 2000. We are doing our part and the City of Chicago Ordinance that is being proposed isn’t necessary because we are ahead of the game.

Community Message

We are doing our part in the community. We have been working on these facilities since day one. We will continue to move forward to make improvements because our intent when we purchased these plants was to be part of the community. When we came to Chicago we were the first to open our doors to the community. There is quite a bit of community involved and if we had anything to hide, if we thought we weren’t doing the right thing, why would we bring anyone into the plants? Don’t believe everything that you hear. We have been doing the right things and we will continue to do so.

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