The article and photos by Tom Pelton on the the Chesapeake Bay Foundation blog.
I recently drove down to the blackwater swamps of southern Virginia to witness a tale of two cities. Many residents of tiny, rural Dendron (population, 300) see their community’s economic salvation in the construction of a coal-fired power plant. But others are deeply worried about the health impacts of toxic mercury pollution and microscopic soot particles. Down the road from Dendron, the town of Clover, Virginia, tried a similar path to renaissance 17 years ago — and learned a sobering lesson.
There are several interviews from both Dendron/Surry County residents and Clover/Halifax County residents, as well as the following:
Harvard School of Public Health Associate Professor Dr. Jonathan Levy, an expert on power plant pollution, said that particulates from the Dendron plant’s smokestacks would likely increase the number of asthma and heart attacks in people living across a wide region. “We’ve done a series of studies over the years looking at power plants in specific geographic areas and across the country. And in general we’ve found that the public health burdens are quite large – on the order of tens of thousands of premature deaths per year. When placed in monetary terms, the damages can be quite large, in relation to the cost of electricity.”
ODEC has been trying to say all is safe for residents of Dendron. However, you have to wonder about that. They can’t place the power plant ‘too close’ to the wetlands, but they can place it closer to the Town of Dendron? Yes, they had to move it closer to the Town and it’s residents because of the dangers to the wetlands, believe it or not!
Oh, and do you see how well the Clover plant in the picture above from the CBF article is hidden from view? ODEC also says that the plant will not be an eyesore or all that visible to the Town that it backs up to?! Yeah right…I buy that.
And as discovered by Tom Pelton, the town of Clover didn’t get the economic benefits either. So are we in the Town of Dendron supposed to believe that that will happen here?
I talked to several residents of Clover. They told me that they, just like the people of Dendron, really hoped the construction of a coal plant would spark a rebirth of their long-shrinking town. But after the Clover Power Station opened in 1995, the community’s only restaurant closed, followed by its grocery store and school.
By 1998, Clover had so few residents and so little money, officials took the rare step of dissolving the town.
It no longer exists.
Is that what ODEC hopes will happen to our little town too?
And what if they build this on the smaller property in Sussex County instead of the Town of Dendron? Will Dendron be in the clear? Not likely. I recently heard that the Surry Board of Supervisors got a big surprise on that score too. Even if they build the power plant in Sussex County, they will still likely be shipping the Coal Ash to a new Fly Ash landfill with all it’s hazardous dangers … to DENDRON! And will they still do the railroad to ship it to Dendron? Or bring it by truck? Either way will be disasterous for the Town of Dendron.
We can’t win for losing!
AND they will still be needing water from the James River and still within the same area that they had originally noted if the plant were in Dendron. So the James River will still have environmentally detrimental affects from the ODEC plant.
Oh, and if they still do either or both of these things; eminent domain will still be a threat to property owners in both Surry and Sussex Counties.
As I say, we can’t win for losing…
And what of the state of attainment for Hampton Roads and Virginia because of this plant?
I think that some may now be thinking that as unwanted as the OLF was/is — that it would have been/would be better than this disaster!