Citizens Environment Alliance
December 1, 1998

Citizens Environment Alliance Joins U.S. Health & Environmental Groups in Conners Creek Litigation

Windsor, Ontario -

An international alliance of U.S. and Canadian environmental, neighborhood and public health groups are joining forces to keep Detroit Edison from restarting Conners Creek, because the 48 year-old coal-fired plant fails to meet healthy air standards. The alliance is contesting Detroit Edison's claim that this moth-balled plant on the banks of the Detroit River can be started up under the same legal provisions that allows continuously running old plants to operate.

Edison lost the first round in its July attempt to restart the plant when the Michigan Department of Environmental quality (MDEQ) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled Detroit Edison must update permits and emission controls before constructing and making modifications to reopen the plant. US EPA and MDEQ are opposing Edison's claim in Federal Court that the permit denial is illegal. The alliance supporting the efforts of EPA and MDEQ, is intervening on behalf of the public interest in preventing further air pollution.

"We felt we had to intervene," Elliot Levinson of the American Lung Association said. “During this past summer we saw substantial increases in serious air pollution on both sides of the border. There were as many as 3,000 visits to emergency rooms due to ozone exceedances in Detroit. If Conners Creek is allowed to reopen, Detroiters will be at greater risk for respiratory problems."

Groups participating in the motion to intervene include: Citizens Environment Alliance of SW Ontario, the American Lung Association of Michigan, Creekside Community Development Corporation and Michigan's two leading environmental coalitions, the Michigan Environmental Council and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. All public groups, in addition to Environment Canada, the International Joint Commission and Ontario Ministry of Environment, agree that the plant would substantially increase the emissions of smog forming substances, particulate matter, greenhouse gases and toxic metals, such as mercury, to the air shed of Windsor and the Detroit River ecosystem.

"Cleaner alternatives to coal-fired electrical generation do exist, “ according to CEA Research Coordinator, Rick Coronado. “There is absolutely no reason for Detroit Edison to restart the ancient Conners Creek Power Plant except for profit and exploitation.” Ontario would be on the receiving end of much of the plant's pollution, and that is why twenty six thousand doctors in the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) joined this struggle. The OMA and others agree that 1800 deaths per year in Ontario can be blamed on air pollution, and Windsor has the worst air pollution in the country. Much of this pollution is from Michigan and Ohio.

According to the American Lung Association, this past summer, the Detroit area exceeded the new US ozone air quality standard 10 times, an increase of 67% over 1997 levels. In Ontario, according to the Ministry of Environment, levels of smog in Windsor exceeded acceptable guidelines for 17 days and a total of 79 hours . Windsor, also has some of the highest levels of particulate matter in the country. Levels of asthma and other respiratory diseases are on the increase in Detroit and Windsor, particularly in children.

For more information contact:
Shawn Hupka
President, Citizens Environment Alliance
(519) 973-1116