March 14, 2005

NB Power receives renewed air quality approval for Belledune power plant

New Brunswick Environment and Local Government Minister Brenda Fowlie has approved a renewal of the air quality operating permit for New Brunswick Power's coal-fired Belledune generating station, effective April 1, 2005. She said the renewed permit will include some additional requirements, including more testing and monitoring, in response to issues raised during public consultation on NB Power's renewal application.

The 490-megawatt (MW) Belledune facility, commissioned in 1993, is the province's newest electricity generating plant. Situated in northern New Brunswick, it was also the first such plant in Canada to be designed with a flue gas desulfurization system (also referred to as a "scrubber"). It is equipped with "best available control technology" for particulate matter and sulfur dioxide, and was the first in Canada to be built in accordance with, and to meet the requirements of, the federal new source performance standard for power plants.

Like all power plants in New Brunswick, Belledune has a continuous emission monitoring (CEM) system in place for uninterrupted measurement of emission levels to the atmosphere. Belledune's CEM system tracks emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and opacity.

NB Power has met all conditions of its current operating approval for the Belledune plant since the permit was issued in April 2000. Emissions of SO2, NOX and particulate matter have remained well below permitted limits from 2000 through the first quarter of 2004. A few exceedances of provincial ambient air quality limits and standards have occurred, but many of these happened while the station was not on line, indicating another possible source. Sampling, monitoring and reporting requirements have been met consistently.

To address concerns raised about emissions and monitoring of particulate matter (PM), the new approval will require NB Power to install and operate two ambient monitoring stations to measure total PM and one monitoring station to measure ambient concentrations of fine particulate (PM10 and PM2.5).

This monitoring information will assist in determining ground level impacts of particulate emissions from the Belledune facility. Annual testing of stack emissions from the power plant will be required as well, with PM10 and PM2.5 to be included in the parameters being tested annually.

NB Power has reduced mercury stack emissions from the Belledune plant by approximately 50% since 2002 by discontinuing the burning of indigenous New Brunswick coal. Since 2002, mercury emissions have been approximately 20 kilograms per year, which is low for a coal-fired power plant of this size. Tests were done in 2000 and 2004 to quantify stack emissions of mercury, and the new approval will require NB Power to conduct further stack testing to quantify mercury emission from the Belledune facility.

The Department of Environment and Local Government notes that it is not yet prepared to set a mercury emission limit for the plant, as the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is currently working to establish a Canada-Wide Standard for mercury emissions from coal-fired electric power generating stations. Mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants in New Brunswick will be regulated in accordance with this Canada-Wide Standard.

More information, including the facility profile, draft and intended approvals, and summaries of issues raised and responses, may be viewed on-line at www.gnb.ca/0009/0355/0005/I-2360_E.html.

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