Category Archives: pollution

Tuesday: Breathe with care in Delaware …..(etc)

Bad Air

Tuesday August 5, 2014 is an official Code Orange “air quality action day” in Delaware.  The DNREC says: “A Code Orange air quality forecast for ozone is a level of pollution that can be unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as young children, the elderly, and those with heart and/or respiratory conditions. Such persons should limit outdoor activities, especially those that require a high level of exertion.”

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Object to Censorship at “Delaware City Day”

Delaware City, whatever it’s other charms, has been, pathetically, a “company town.”  The Company being whatever is the current owner of the Delaware City Refinery.  The Refinery has had perhaps a half-dozen owners since opening in 1957, none seeming nastier or more aggressive that the present PBF Energy. Continue reading

Good News: “The Data Center” (power plant) apparently dead

Gas attack: U of Delaware kills $1 billion data center/power plant.”

“The Data Center” was a scam so blatant, so absurd, that it should never have gotten any traction at all.

That it did is a sad commentary on the intellectual and ethical emptiness of Delaware’s “Chamber of Commerce” business community, and, of course, the administration of Gov. Jack Markell.  The so called “Delaware Economic Development Office,”especially, demonstrates a consistent and predictable idiocy backed up by secrecy and dishonesty.

Per usual in Delaware, the scam was assembled by various parties, including the Markell administration, the University of Delaware, and the City of Newark, before the public was given notice.  Then, it was rolled out as a done deal.  Thankfully, it apparently has been undone.  (Note that the objection is mostly to the power plant, not to a data center as such.)

Aside from the obvious lie of saying a 278 megawatt gas-burning power plant was “auxiliary” to a data center, consider the un wisdom, or the symbolism, of a large new fossil-fuel power plant in a state so vulnerable to the effects of climate change that much of it will soon enough be under water.

Delaware has the lowest mean elevation of any state at 60 ft above sea level.   (Florida and Louisiana are next at 100 ft.)  The mean elevation of Kent County is only 36 feet.  Current measured sea level rise is around 3.4 mm per year and speeding up–it varies from place to place–and almost every new official prediction of sea level rise is higher than the last one.  See Waters rising … Delaware going away?”

It is long past time to be shutting down the the existing combustion power plants that drive climate change and sea level rise, far less a time to be building new ones.  (The total generating capacity in Delaware is on the order of 3300 megawatts.)

In the face of this, Markell has allowed investment in wind, solar, and energy efficiency to mostly come to a stop–suiting the interests of Delmarva Power–while embracing various schemes for burning more natural gas.

(All considered, it appears that the climate change impact of natural gas is at least as high as coal, because of the unburned methane emissions.)

Residents of the City of Newark, and faculty and students of the University of Delaware, came to life to oppose a scam in which the City and the administration of the U of D were deeply involved.  In recent decades it has been rare to see signs of political life in Newark, but self-interest does have an energizing effect.  See Newark Residents Against the Power Plant.

The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club (especially Amy Roe) and the Delaware Audubon Society contributed.

But the real hero of this fight, in my opinion, is Rep. John Kowalko of Newark.  Kowalko relentlessly sought accurate information from various parties so he could represent the true interests of his constituents.  It doesn’t take a lot of courage for professors or environmentalists to oppose a power plant, but Kowalko, a longtime union person, took a lot of heat from any-job-at-any-cost Delaware union officials.

Kowalko, as he usually does, behaved with gumption, integrity, and right-on values.   Consider the oath of office that Delaware’s Constitution prescribes for public officials:

“I, (name) , do proudly swear (or affirm) to carry out the responsibilities of the office of

(name of office) to the best of my ability, freely acknowledging that the powers of this office flow from the people I am privileged to represent. I further swear (or affirm) always to place the public interests above any special or personal interests, and to respect the right of future generations to share the rich historic and natural heritage of Delaware. In doing so I will always uphold and defend the Constitutions of my Country and my State, so help me God.”  [emphasis added by Muller]

How many legislators take their oath seriously?  John Kowalko is one who clearly does.  (I don’t know what role has been played by Senators representing the area.)

Compare the “Data Center” fight with the fight of people around Millsboro against a giant Korean chicken-killing plant, another Markell project just as absurd and undesirable.  See “ Just how disgusting can the Markell administration get? Is there any bottom?”  That area is represented by Gerald W. Hocker and John C. Atkins, two of the most special-interest-serving legislators in Delaware.  (Atkins has been in the news recently –but not for helping his constituents!–, and Green Delaware has featured him before.)

Friday and Saturday are forecast to be Code Yellow bad air days in Delaware for ozone.  Saturday is also Code Yellow for particles.  Some discussion of the meaning of this is here.

Transcript of hearing on the Markell administration’s proposed (non) cleanup of the former Vlasic/Pinnacle pickle packing plant in Millsboro, DE

On December 17, 2013, a public hearing was held in Millsboro.

Here’s the official transcript of the hearing.

Delaware was once known for the high quality of its environmental public hearings.   It’s really sad to see what a joke they have become. Continue reading

Just how disgusting can the Markell administration get? Is there any bottom?

[CORRECTION:  We screwed up the numbers on expansion of the poultry industry in Delaware implies by the proposed new Allen Harim chicken plant in Millsboro.  See below for corrected text.]

Recently Green Delaware reported that we are following a number of dubious schemes in Delaware including three incinerators and “The Data Center.”  Add one more:

A proposed new chicken processing plant in Millsboro, at the contaminated former Vlasic/Pinnacle pickle packing plant.

This is being actively promoted by the usual set of part-of-the-problem Delaware pols and state agencies, and opposed by activated citizens organized as Protecting our Indian River (Stop the Allen Harim Chicken Plant from Further Contaminating Our Environment). Continue reading

Tire incinerator update/action alert

Key points:

o       Call into WDEL, Al Mascitti Show, after 10:00 on Thursday, Aug 22nd.  Ask your questions and share your thoughts on the tire/plastics incinerator in New Castle.

o       Call on Gov. Markell and DNREC Secretary Collin Omara to publish a proper public notice and press release about the extended incinerator comment period.

Send comments to Collin. OMara@state.de.us, Michelle.Jacobs@state.de.us, jack.markell@state.de.us

O’Mara’s office phone:  302.739.9000  Markell’s office:  302.577.3210

o       Get your comments on why the incinerator is an incinerator ready for the Sept 9th deadline (detailed suggestions upcoming on this).
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DuPont at work in New Jersey

Sunday, February 7, 2010
Last updated: Sunday February 7, 2010, 10:13 AM

The Record
STAFF WRITER
Families already reeling from news that their health might be imperiled by dangerous chemicals seeping from a defunct DuPont munitions factory may now have something else to worry about: declining property values in their Passaic County neighborhood. Continue reading

Massachusetts Medical Society’s opposition to biomass plants

Comment: This was published in the Greenfield [Mass.] Recorder on Jan 26, 2010, but doesn’t seem to be available online. This is not the only medical society to oppose these burners. Delaware, due to wise actions ten years ago, already has in place laws against “biomass” burners. These laws are under attack and need to be strengthened and clarified.

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The purpose of this article is to describe the process and scientific rationale for the resolution by the Massachusetts Medical Society opposing biomass plants. Continue reading

Alert 674: “Tiny Virginia Town Approves Giant Coal-Fired Power Plant”


Delaware Electric Cooperative involved

Friends, yesterday we reported on a potential agreement to shut down a 177 megawatt coal generating unit in Delaware.  That’s good news.  But we have a much nastier piece of coal news that also needs reporting.

The little town of Dendron , Virginia, population 293, over fifty percent black, this week narrowly approved permits for a 1500 megawatt coal unit.  Many residents of the area are strongly opposed, not wanting their community to be poisoned by a coal burner.  Check the project promoters’ page to see how the community is being mislead and manipulated. Continue reading

“DNREC negotiating permanent shutdown of additional coal unit at Indian River Power Plant”

As our readers know, Green Delaware advocates a phase-out of coal burning in Delaware as the only reasonable solution to the multiple problems caused by the “coal cycle.”   Indian River Unit 3 is a 177 megawatt (nameplate capacity) coal burning steam-electric unit started up in 1970. Continue reading